Mueller indicts three Trump aides Transcript 10/30/17 The Beat with Ari Melber
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: October 30, 2017
Guest: Ron Hosko, Ned Price, Philippe Reines, Ron Klain, Betsy Woodruff, Brian Wice
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: Together, you get Northam up 4.5
percent. That is pretty close to the “RealClear” polling average. It has
Northam up 3.3 points today. So, in case you missed it, probably despite
that eyepopping poll number, this is not a 17-point race.
That`s all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow. THE BEAT with Ari
Melber starts right now. And good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Good evening. Thank you, Steve. Have a
KORNACKI: You too.
MELBER: Tonight, breaking news that Bob Mueller charged three former Trump
aides and one has already pled guilty on a Russia-related charge.
Donald Trump has been in office for nine months. These are the earliest
indictments of a president`s former aides in modern history. One campaign
advisor admitting he lied to investigators about meetings with the Kremlin-
linked Russians, offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Two others out on bail
tonight on charges of financial crime.
This story is rocking Washington and the White House. And we also have
more breaking news coming in this hour. Reaction from trump aides, from
lawmakers saying this is just the beginning and, later this hour, brand-new
NBC reporting on Mueller`s road ahead and some shocking information about
just how broad Russian propaganda reached on Facebook to get to Americans.
But, first, this news. At the same time of all of this, Donald Trump`s
only public appearance here this Halloween event at the White House, a
somewhat surreal image to cap a wild day that broke this story wide open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first indictment in the investigation into alleged
ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The charges say they lied to the FBI about whether
they were, in fact, lobbying for the government of Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we`re seeing is a money trail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, first reaction from Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, but this is years ago. Why aren`t crooked
Hillary and the Dems the focus.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today`s announcement
has nothing to do with the president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He, of course, continues to refer to this all as a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It`s October 30, 2017. Mr. President, call your lawyer.
The most significant charge in the investigation is Russia related. George
Papadopoulos pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with
Russians, offering that dirt on Clinton. Accepting that would be illegal.
Now, the broadest charges are for Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, facing
12 counts for their pro-Kremlin work in the Ukraine.
Mueller`s case against those two Trump aides centers on three lies - lies
about their foreign lobbying, lies about the money they made doing it, and
lies about the taxes they evaded while doing it.
Joining me now is former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade; Robert Ray,
who was the final independent counsel in the Clinton Whitewater
investigations, succeeding Republican Ken Starr, “New York Times” reporter
Ken Vogel; and Ned Price, a senior director for Obama`s national security
council and a former CIA analyst.
Ned, I begin with you, and here`s why. This is documentation and a guilty
plea for what looks like a real high level, sophisticated type of
espionage, earlier than many people had realized or had been proven. Your
view of that part of the guilty plea that has been unsealed today.
NED PRICE, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well,
that`s right, Ari. What we read about today in this charging document for
George Papadopoulos, immediately recalled in my mind, what we read about in
the aftermath of the June 9th meeting at Trump Tower, which I think was
another intelligence operation.
Look, Russians, just like any other sophisticated intelligence service,
don`t go through the front door. They go through the back door. They go
through the backdoor with cutouts. Then do it to maintain plausible
deniability. And that is exactly what this looks like in this case.
We`re to believe that, while traveling to Italy from his base in London,
George Papadopoulos just bumped into this professor, who also happened to
be based in London, they strike up a conversation, the professor learns
that George Papadopoulos is a Trump campaign adviser, and from there we`re
off to the races with the professor ultimately offering “dirt” on Hillary
That, to me, Ari, seems to be opening salvo, an opening offer from the
Russian intelligence services.
MELBER: An opening offer that now is in Bob Mueller`s cross hairs because
he busted it. And he arrested this individual in July. And no one heard
about it because, I guess, Bob Mueller didn`t want anyone to hear about it.
And he got a guilty plea October 5th and we are only hearing about it today
because Bob Mueller decided to unseal it.
Barbara, I want to read to you from the indictment. You`ve prepared
materials like this before. From the narrative in the guilty plea, there
are references to a campaign supervisor, to a senior policy adviser and to
a high-ranking campaign official. This is in the statement of offense
Walk us through what it means to have those individuals cited, but not
named in this.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Department of Justice policy
says that, if you`re going to identify co-conspirators or other individuals
in an indictment, but you`re not going to charge them, then you should not
include their names. And that`s why we get these descriptions of high-
level campaign officials and the like.
Now, that does not mean that they will never be charged, only that they`re
not being charged right now.
MELBER: These three individuals - in this narrative, you`re saying, they
are not off the hook just because today they`re described without
MCQUADE: Exactly. It could be that there`s not enough evidence to charge
them at the moment. There could be a strategic reason not to charge them.
Or it could be that they`re already cooperating with the investigation.
MELBER: Ken Vogel, what do you think we learned today?
KEN VOGEL, “THE NEW YORK TIMES” REPORTER: I think we see two parallel
tracks here. We do see some action, some pretty serious action on the sort
of animating question here behind this investigation, which is did the
trump campaign collude or attempt to collude with the Russians in their
efforts to meddle in the election. This Papadopoulos indictment - the
guilty plea shows that there is progress on that front.
Also, on a different track, we see some more senior officials, Manafort and
Rick Gates, being indicted on charges that the Trump campaign - the Trump
administration is right here, they are not directly related to the
campaign, except for the fact that they do really cast some doubt on the
vetting operation and professionalism of the Trump campaign because, you
would think, if they are done even the most cursory research on Paul
Manafort and Rick Gates, they would have seen these flags. They didn`t.
they brought them on.
MELBER: But you`re assuming a level of innocence that hasn`t been
established yet at top of the campaign. You`re assuming that they wanted
to vet these people to keep these people out. There are open questions in
the theory of the case about whether there was actually some sort of desire
to bring people in who can help collect this information? Or as Don, Jr.
put it, I love it.
VOGEL: Well, I`m assuming from what I know, having covered that campaign
up close for many months, which is that it was a pretty bare-bones
operation and that it did not do a whole lot of vetting of any of these
Witness people like Carter Page who were brought on and ended up causing
serious problems with them without bringing any benefit. I think that a
more professional campaign would have flagged these concerns upfront and
said, hey, we don`t want any part of this.
MELBER: I mean, Barbara, I think one of the things Mueller is
investigating is whether the “benefit” was people with connections that
might give them an international edge to win the campaign and they may or
may not have realized just how illegal that edge would be under the Foreign
Election Campaign Act.
MCQUADE: Well, you see in the emails that are quoted in the charging
document, where there`s a lot of reporting by Papadopoulos about his
efforts to arrange meetings with Russians and there seems to be
encouragement. Great work, see if you can get the meeting.
So, there does seem to be encouragement to try to establish these kinds of
meetings. Whether there was knowledge that it was illegal, how much
knowledge does it take to know that you shouldn`t be taking advice, gifts
or opposition research from our greatest adversary in the world?
MELBER: I put that question then to you, Robert Ray, as a former special
ROBERT RAY, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: Well, if you closely look at
stipulation of facts, what is alleged there is the back end. And the back
end is the sought-after meetings with high-level officials within the Trump
campaign apparently didn`t happen.
So, you can talk about whether they should have been trying to do this or
whether there should have been encouragement to do this, but, at some
point, it sounds as if, if I`m reading the stipulated facts, the recitation
correctly, that somebody at a higher-up level thought better of actually
making the connection and actually hosting the meeting that was attempted
to be arranged.
MELBER: And how strong, do you think this case is against Manafort and
Gates? The 31-page indictment certainly has a lot of financial detail and
wires in it.
RAY: Well, I mean, in the first instance, it does seem to be at least
initially unrelated to the Russia collusion investigation -
MELBER: Not unlike your answer to my question. You`re giving an answer
that is unrelated to what I`m asking you. I`m asking you, given your
extensive experience as special counsel, how winnable is the case again
Manafort and Gates?
RAY: It`s technical. It`s mostly tax-related. I mean, there`s not much
of a defense to either you`re supposed to register foreign accounts or
MELBER: But you think they`re in real trouble?
RAY: Not to overstate what happened on Friday, but not to understate it
either, those are serious federal felony charges involving money
laundering, concealment of assets, evading taxes, failing to register your
foreign bank accounts, failing to register as a lobbyist with regard to
foreign interests. Those are all serious things.
And they don`t provide too many avenues for a defense because - again,
there`s an answer to that question.
MELBER: And there`s a paper record at least on the financial side, which
is what makes it such a strong case on paper.
RAY: Which is why there was a search warrant in that case.
MELBER: And the search warrant. I want to go to Ned on another part of
this, which is NBC reporting on a highly-ranking campaign official here
that says Papadopoulos basically emailed this official, with the subject
line, request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump. This is what Robert was just
Now, high-ranking campaign official, NBC sources identify as Paul Manafort
and he forwards it, writing “we need someone to communicate that DT,
presumably Donald Trump, is not doing these trips. It should be someone
low level in the campaign, so as not to send any signal.”
What are your ideas on what that means, that reference to a signal, Ned?
PRICE: Well, I`ve heard different theories about this excerpt, Ari. And
there`s been some chatter this is exculpatory, that this shows that the
Trump campaign was not interested in pursuing these leads, these tidbits
from their Russian interlocutors.
I actually think, Ari, it shows the opposite. It shows that they want to
do it in an under-the-table, very discrete manner, in a manner that is far
less prominent than sending candidate Donald Trump. They want to send
someone like George Papadopoulos, someone who is more anonymous, someone
who could take a meeting and not be spotted and perhaps further that
conversation in the hopes of getting the goods on Secretary Clinton.
MELBER: Right. And that is something that I think is so interesting, it
is at a level of a theory. As always, when we report on this, we mention
that Gates and Manafort are presumed innocent and maintain their innocence.
And some of these lines are open to interpretation.
But the circumstantial repeat status of the number of people in these
third-party meetings that seem open to getting help from the Russians
certainly not a great thing for the campaign. I think they end the day
worse off than when they started it.
Barbara and Ned, I`m going to see you both later in the show because we
have a lot more to get to. Ken and Robert, thank you for being on THE BEAT
on this big news day.
Coming up, I have a special breakdown on the other piece of this, the story
behind the story of these indictments, brand new information why a Trump
aide was trying to set up that secret meeting.
And what other witnesses might Mueller might try to flip. I have a former
assistant director of the FBI who served under Mueller himself.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching a special edition of THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Breaking news tonight. Special Counsel Bob Mueller charging three
former Trump aides and one of them pleading guilty. Now, that guilty plea
means there are actually two new stories emerging today. One is alleged;
the other is not in dispute.
And in bad news for the Trump White House, the story that`s not in dispute
is the one about Russian collusion.
Let me give you our breakdown tonight. The first story was more expected.
Two very well-connected GOP operatives, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates,
turning their access into a fortune and that money gave them power, which
they strangely risked by allegedly hiding their work, their money and their
tax bills. Both pleading not guilty today.
Manafort`s lawyer says those charges are “ridiculous”. He also denies
collusion. Mueller alleging Manafort laundered $18 million. That money
trail included links to Russia, where a Putin oligarch allegedly funded
their work at a stop in Ukraine, whose leader paid Manafort millions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Viktor Yanukovych stands accused of complicity in the
mass killing of protesters on Kiev`s Independence Square.
Mr. Yanukovych denies allegations of embezzling state funds or of hiding
millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts.
The night after the shootings, Mr. Yanukovych left Kiev. He would never to
return. Following attacks on his convoy, the Russian president sent
special forces to bring him across the border to safety in Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was Manafort`s client heading into February 2016, when
Manafort began offering services to Trump for tree, insisting he no longer
worked, though, for any other clients and was always careful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: And are you going to make a promise
in the future that, if he`s president, you`ll be careful what clients you
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I`m always careful what
clients I take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m always careful what clients I think, he says there. But that
claim looks more suspect today. Mueller alleging Manafort was still
laundering money to hide his Ukrainian client in 2016 and Mueller alleging
Manafort and Gates broke the law by also hiding their work on behalf of a
Now, that`s the disputed story. Manafort and Gates deny it and they`re
The other story breaking here today is undisputed. It`s a confession from
a Trump adviser who admits he lied to the feds about his meetings with
Russians, offering dirt on Clinton.
George Papadopoulos didn`t get the most attention on the Trump campaign,
but Trump cited him as an excellent foreign policy adviser when he joined
in March 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard you might be announcing your foreign policy
advisory team soon.
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want, I could
give you some of the names. George Papadopoulos, he`s an energy
consultant, excellent guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s excellent guy was arrested when he arrived at Dulles
Airport on July 27th. Now, whatever happened between his arrest and today,
we know he lied to the FBI about contacts with Russia.
We know he began cooperating and we now know he is the first person to
plead guilty in Russia-related charges in Mueller`s probe.
Just pause on that new fact tonight. If you hear anybody say, well, the
Russia probe still hasn`t hit Russia, you`re talking to someone who didn`t
read today`s guilty plea or didn`t understand it because it is actually a
detailed, undisputed account of Kremlin outreach from before Trump was even
Outreach with two stated goals. Cultivating relationships to offer dirt on
Clinton and getting Putin and Trump a special meeting during the campaign.
Starting back on March 14, 2016, Papadopoulos met with this man promising
Kremlin connections and a Russian national he called Putin`s niece, now
admitting he received an open invite by Putin for Trump to meet him
possibly in London for a “more neutral setting.”
Now, what did this Trump aide do with that offer? He brought to a high-
ranking Trump campaign official, a reference to Paul Manafort, according to
sources who spoke to NBC today.
Manafort didn`t just say no. he forwards the email to a campaign official
with specific instructions, noting Trump is not doing these trips and that
should be communicated by someone low level in the campaign, so as not to
send any signal.
Well, what signal? No means no, unless Manafort had some other idea about
how to signal Russia. So, that`s a lie.
But Mueller got Papadopoulos to admit more. And this maybe the most
important start of the undisputed story. On April 26, Papadopoulos`
Russian contact told him the Russians had obtained dirt on then-candidate
Clinton, including thousands of emails.
So, before the Trump Tower meeting, Mueller now has a Trump aide admitting
that there were other Kremlin was overtures about Clinton`s emails.
April was far earlier than when Russia`s email hacks had become common
knowledge. We`ve put this timeline back together for you tonight. Trump
Tower didn`t come until June 3rd, with that email to Donald Trump, Jr.,
with info that would incriminate Hillary.
So, Russians offered Trump aides Clinton email dirt in April. We learn
that now. Then a different offer of Clinton dirt in June. June 3rd.
And consider this, the public reports of the democratic e-mail hack didn`t
come until later, June 14th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: This comes from the pages of “The Washington
Post” just handed to us. The headline reads “Russian Government Hackers
Penetrated DNC, Stole Opposition Research on Trump.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Today`s unsealed confession is a pretty damning time line for at
least some Trump aides who said the Trump Tower meeting was the first time
they had ever heard of these offers to help.
The first intrusions into the DNC began back in 2015, the phishing e-mail
to Clinton chair John Podesta came March 19th, 2016.
So, that`s what we learned today was happening going into summer 2016.
Now, that new info puts the summer convention in a new light. At the time,
Mueller alleges Manafort illegally was hiding his work for a foreign power,
he was overseeing a campaign that changed the GOP platform to benefit that
foreign power, which he disclaimed at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: There`s been controversy about something in the Republican Party
platform that essentially changed the Republican Party`s views when it
comes to Ukraine. How much influence did you have on changing that
MANAFORT: I had none.
TODD: Everybody on the platform committee had said it came from the Trump
campaign. If not you, who?
MANAFORT: It absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign.
TODD: So, nobody from the Trump campaign wanted that change in the
MANAFORT: No one, zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But our reporting shows that claim is disputed by the GOP
delegates on the platform committee. In fact, Texas Republican delegate
Diana Denman served on that committee. She tried to persuade the Trump
staffers not to go to that Ukraine-Russia language.
And earlier this year, she told me Trump staffers at the convention told
her that Russia change came from such a high-level person in Trump
campaign, she didn`t believe initially that someone that high would want
this Russia change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I thought he was perhaps overreaching his pay grade. So, I asked
him three times. I asked him very definitely who he was talking to and he
gave me the same answer all three times. I really didn`t believe him.
But given what she knows now, Denman told me she does now believe what he
said then, that he was speaking about watering down this Russia amendment
to someone in highest levels of the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s what we learned back in April before all of this was
unfurled in today`s indictment. So, earlier this year, we had Manafort`s
claim contradicted by republicans on the ground.
Today, he`s charged with working as an agent of a foreign power, putting
that history in harsher light. There`s a lot of evidence here. Some of it
could look different when these Trump aides get a chance to tell their side
But the undisputed part of this story tonight is the most revealing. Trump
aides fielding more offers of Russian dirt on Clinton long before the Trump
Tower meeting and long before most of the public had any reason to know
that was possible and working for a foreign power along the way.
With me now Michael Isikoff, chief investigative reporter for “Yahoo!
News”. And back with me, former prosecutor Barbara McQuade.
Michael, it does look worse now.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, “YAHOO! NEWS”: Yes,
look. This was clearly very significant developments on both fronts. The
Papadopoulos thing was not expected. We didn`t see that on the radar
What strikes me is, you remember, going back, ever since January, there
have been multiple reports about US intelligence getting information,
reports from foreign intelligence services and intercepts about Russian
efforts to cultivate people in Donald Trump`s orbit.
And that was all very murky because we never had any specifics. Here we
saw it laid out in great detail, these repeated communications with this
guy, Papadopoulos from this Russian professor and the Russian woman, trying
to set up a meeting, dangling dirt on Hillary Clinton, it`s a confirmation
of all those reports we`ve been hearing about about the Russian effort to
penetrate the Trump campaign.
MELBER: And so, Barbara, you take that and him as a cooperating witness,
what are investigators continuing to try to get out of someone like him?
And what if he says, well, I did all this, but I did it all alone, then is
he of less help?
MCQUADE: Well, I think so. But I think the documents we have unsealed
already suggests that he didn`t do it alone. The documents talk about, as
you mentioned, unnamed officials.
There`s at least four people, high level official this, and policy director
that, campaign supervisor this, these are real people. And Papadopoulos
can tell you their names.
And so, I think that he can continue to be of great value to the campaign -
I think one of the most significant. And I agree with you that -
MELBER: You`re saying - Barbara, we`ll put it back on the screen. Those
three people, you`re saying, your reading of this new material today,
because it`s a lot to digest, is that he knows who those people are and
he`s already told Mueller who they are?
MCQUADE: Yes. I do believe that`s true. It is convention not to name
them in a document, but I believe that when providing information,
Papadopoulos told them who they were by name.
ISIKOFF: Ari, I should point out that we know who some of those people
are. The campaign supervisor I reported today is Sam Clovis, who was the
campaign co-chairman. At least one of those high-ranking campaign
officials, as I and NBC and others have reported, is Paul Manafort himself.
So, we`re not precisely sure about all of them, but at least some of those
have been identified and they`re very high people in the Trump campaign.
MELBER: Right. I`m driving at a subtlety within the point you make, which
is we`re sourcing that up, you`re sourcing that up, but that, as we learn
this today, because it`s new, Barbara is making the point that this is
material that has long ago been confirmed and provided to Mueller`s
investigators. They may have already made moves based on this.
ISIKOFF: Yes. We know that Gates has been cooperating since he was
arrested at Dulles Airport in late July.
MELBER: Barbara, go ahead.
MCQUADE: Yes. Papadopoulos has been cooperating since his arrest. Maybe.
At least since he entered into a plea agreement on October 5th, more than
three weeks ago. So, at some point, he agreed that he was going to
cooperate. There are a lot of facts likely unknown to all of us in the
public. Additional facts known to Robert Mueller.
But I think one of the most significant things about today is the timing.
They could have unsealed this Papadopoulos plea any time. They could have
unsealed it on October 5th. They could have waited another month.
They chose today because today was the day they were also unsealing charges
against Manafort. They are clearly sending a message to Manafort. We know
who these people are - who are in this document, these unnamed campaign
officials. You know who they are, Paul Manafort, and this is your chance
MELBER: And finally, briefly, Michael, based on your reporting, do you
think he is likely to cooperate? And do you think Flynn and Tony Podesta,
Democratic powerhouse, are exposed on the foreign agent issue because we`re
seeing Mueller is willing to charge on it.
ISIKOFF: Well, actually, if you look at the indictment against Manafort
and Gates, yes, there is some exposure - potential exposure there for Tony
Podesta, big Clinton fundraiser, brother of John Podesta who is the
chairman of the Clinton campaign and the Mercury Group headed by Vin Weber,
the Republican congressman.
Both were hired by Manafort to do this prof-Ukrainian lobbying for
Yanukovych. Both did not file for - under the Foreign Agents Registration
Act, saying that they didn`t believe they were working for a foreign
And according to the indictment, both were told in writing that Yanukovych
wanted reports on what they were doing. That should have been a red flag
that they weren`t working for some obscure non-profit in Brussels, they
were working for the Yanukovych regime in Kiev.
MELBER: No. indeed, the reference to the non-profit now being offered as
evidence of cover-up in the words of that indictment.
Michael Isikoff and Barbara McQuade, thank you both so much.
Ahead, Mueller`s next move, he`s talking to people who work at the White
Also, Trump`s lawyers speaking out, revealing part of the legal defense
strategy. Stay with THE BEAT on a very big night here on MSNBC.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Bob Mueller has issued his first indictments in
the Russia probe with one former Trump Campaign Adviser pleading guilty to
lying to the FBI about Russia. Trump`s lawyer saying Mueller has begun
interviewing White House staff members and the president won`t try to
influence any charges Mueller files.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TY COBB, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: He would be sad for them as a friend
and former colleague if process results in you know, punishment or
indictments, but to the extent that happens, that`s beyond his control and
obviously he`s not trying to influence that in any way.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now is Ron Hosko, former Assistant FBI Director
appointed by Mueller to the Criminal Division and Ned Price from the CIA
back with me. Ron, in an investigation like this which is clearly rolling
and the indictments, do not signal the end, how does what happened today
help advance the trail Mueller is on?
RON HOSKO, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI: Well, I think in two big ways,
one, I can`t help but be impressed by the pace at which they conducted the
Manafort-gate part of this investigation. And I`m on record as saying I
think this work about Mueller will take years. He`s made much more complex
by international activity, whether that`s banking, online transactions, e-
mail transactions, witnesses overseas and the fact that they brought
something this weighty within six months of Bob Mueller taking this
position is significant. On the Papadopoulos piece, I do think that that
is like an air burst of fireworks. He is putting others on notice that to
give my investigators a false statement, this could be you next, so don`t
do this. Typically you don`t see 1,001 charges. That`s 18 U.S. code
Section 1,001 on false statements.
MELBER: False statements. Yes.
HOSKO: You typically see that buried into other more substantive offenses
and it`s you know, hanging on at end. Here it`s only charge.
MELBER: Oh, yes, I mean, that`s – I think that comes across in the
strategy. He`s not playing.
HOSKO: He is not playing and he`s not been playing.
MELBER: And it doesn`t matter how early and who it was said to and whether
there was a way to spin out of it, he`s coming for you even if it`s one
offense as a standalone. Let me read to you Ron an analysis from Lawfare
which has had some of the best – the best pieces on this. Mueller`s
opening bid a remarkable show of strength. He has a cooperative witness.
He`s alleging astonishing criminality on the part of Trump`s campaign
manager. So, Ron, you talk about the message, what about the cooperation?
If we`re only learning about people that Mueller arrested for the first
time in July, now in late October, do you think there could be other
arrests right now that have already been made of officials or people in
this – in this case that we don`t know about?
HOSKO: I don`t know that there would be other arrests. I think that other
arrest would have to be marched in front of a judge and get their advice of
rights and there`d be public opportunity there for the press to know and
the rest of us to know. So I don`t think there`d been other arrests. My
guess is he has his crosshairs on other expected subjects and he is
probably squeezing hard on other potential witnesses, telling them what
they`re options are and trying to get them on board.
MELBER: And Ned, when you look at that, can you glean, separate from the
law, whether there is an emerging theory from Bob Mueller`s investigation
about what he`s looking at, or whether he`s just picking up the lay-up
crimes at the start?
NED PRICE, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL:
Well, Ari, I think Mueller, from what we`ve seen both today and what we`ve
read in the press over the past couple of weeks is focusing on key prongs,
collusion and obstruction of justice, of course, being the two primary ones
but let`s not forget that there`s a broad third prong, and that is his
right to investigate any crimes that arose or may arise as a result of
these underlying matters. And so, I think that`s where we`re seeing Bob
Mueller start with both Manafort and his one-time deputy in today`s
indictments, but it`s not where it`s going to stop.
He is clearly using these– the indictment today along with the guilty plea
on the part of George Papadopoulos, not only to goose both Manafort and his
deputy into cooperating but as Ron and you were saying, to send a signal.
To send a signal that he – that he, Mueller, will charge you with anything
he is capable of, and that if you cooperate, you will get lighter charge.
But if you fail to do so, as in the case of Manafort earlier today, you`ll
be faced with potentially 12 charges.
MELBER: Right. And just because other prosecutors haven`t always enforced
the foreign power registration rules, which Manafort`s attorney pointed out
today, that`s true, it also doesn`t mean they can`t. And Mueller very
clearly showing he`s willing to throw that and he didn`t need that on top
of the financial crimes, I think he threw in there also to show as Ron and
I were discussing that he`s not playing. For the expertise from CIA and
the FBI, Ned, and Ron, thank you so much.
PRICE: You`re welcome.
MELBER: Up next, Donald Trump lashing out saying, the actual story is
Hillary Clinton. Well, we have a long-time Hillary Clinton Adviser, the
man who played Trump in her mock debates with a view on how Clinton world
is feeling today. And this breaking short MSNBC news, there are stunning
new numbers breaking this hour about how many Americans were reached by
Russian Facebook ads. I`m going to tell you the exact number after this
MELBER: We`re back with our breaking coverage today. Bob Mueller
indicting two individuals and securing a guilty plea from another in the
Russia probe. It has been a day of fast-moving events. One of the big
questions is how is the Hillary Clinton team reacting to this news about
things that impacted her narrow election loss? I`m about to be joined by
Ron Klain, a long-time Democratic operative and Philippe Reines who worked
directly for Hillary and even played Donald Trump. Gentlemen, this is
planned, so stay with me but I have something first.
And that is breaking news from our own Carol Lee with a big story separate
from all this about how Russian content reached people on Facebook. You`ve
got the news and numbers. Go ahead, please.
CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Sure. Well, Ari, this –
what we`ve learned is that this content promoted by Russian-backed fake
Facebook pages reached 126 Americans. Now, what`s significant about that
MELBER: 126 million?
LEE: 126 million Americans, yes. So essentially if you are American,
particularly one of who`s the voting age, the chances that you saw Russia`s
attempt to interfere in the presidential election are pretty high. And
what else is also interesting about this is that when Facebook says that it
was just 29 million Americans who saw directly this content from this
Russian account – Russian Facebook pages, but then that multiplied because
people liked it or they shared it or you know, they otherwise moved the
content on Facebook and so then it just spread. And that underscores the
problem that they`re facing in terms of how you rein this in in future
MELBER: It`s fascinating. And on a day when there`s so much news flying
around, you`ve got this original report as we look ahead to seeing Facebook
and these other companies testify this week with a lot of pressure coming
down including as you`ve reported from Senator Diane Feinstein who says
she`s moving beyond what Republicans are willing to do. So I know you`ll
stay on it and I hope we could talk again this week with a lot going on. I
now turn Philippe Reines, a longtime Adviser to Hillary Clinton, as well as
Ron Klain who served in senior roles in the Obama White House, Chief of
Staff to Vice President Biden, two Democrats with a lot of experience.
Philly, what is your reaction as someone who is inside the Clinton campaign
to what we learned today?
PHILIPPE REINES, SENIOR ADVISOR TO HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it`s just
another day if you`re talking about the social media pages, it`s very hard.
I think we both Ron and I and everyone who worked for Secretary Clinton in
the campaign sensed things going wrong on this front during the campaign.
You don`t fully appreciate how badly and with every day that goes by we
learn something new. It`s obviously a very tough problem for social media
companies to get a handle on –
MELBER: Sure but I mean, beyond that, when you look at – when you look at
not only indictments but you look you opponent having a former aide plead
guilty and agree in court under oath about his contacts to get dirt that
would have been illegal, already gotten the e-mails on your – on your
boss, how does that make you feel?
REINES: On one hand, too little, too late, but on the other hand, justice
looks like it will be served. And the second is where we are and that`s
what`s most important and I think Donald Trump and his staff find
themselves in situation that they`ve never been in where they`re so used to
working the riff and muscling and bullying people and now they`re up
against someone in Bob Mueller who is impervious to that kind of bullying.
MELBER: Do you think the evidence – do you think the evidence in court
today, unsealed today adds to the record to suggest that part of the reason
Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college while winning the popular vote
was because there were efforts to cheat?
REINES: Absolutely. Today, compounds reinforces the ideas that the
Russians were actively trying to meddle in our election to Donald Trump`s
benefit. What you keep hearing whether it`s with Donald Junior or Jared
Kushner, or George Papadopoulos, or all of them is that they tried and
tried and tried. They didn`t just try once at Trump Tower, they kept
looking and looking and looking. And I think we`re going to find out that
they found their way into the Trump organization.
MELBER: Ron, I`m going to read again from this guilty plea and confession
from a former Trump aide because we don`t usually get this say, I don`t
know, about a year after a campaign is done. Someone is saying in court,
hearing his plea, he was told the Russians had obtained quote dirt on then-
candidate Clinton, including quote thousands of e-mails. This was back in
April. That dirt and those thousands of e-mails from the Russians were not
widely known or reported at the time Ron, giving credence to the idea that
the Russians had special knowledge that they were successfully getting to
offer Trump aides in meetings.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, you know,
all of this stuff was laid out by Secretary Clinton in our campaign in 2016
and people doubted it. People said it wasn`t true and the Trump Campaign
and Donald Trump has denied it. And day by day, we`re seeing that those
denials are falling. So one denial was that WikiLeaks had the stuff or
maybe some 400-pound guy in New Jersey had the stuff but Russians didn`t
have it. So now we have a guilty plea saying that the Russians had these
e-mails in April and were trying to traffic them.
And so there`s one more stone in their defense of this that`s fallen. And
so you know, the evidence keeps mounting. Carol`s report about the social
media stuff adds to that. 128 million people saw this material on
Facebook. If just 1 percent of those people were influenced by it, that`s
15 times more than the margin of defeat in this race. So you know, the
evidence continues to mount, the excuses are falling away, and they all
point to obviously a lot of trouble for Donald Trump and his former
MELBER: And meanwhile there are attacks on Hillary Clinton as this was
getting to boiling point. Here was Fox`s Jeanine Pirro this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANINE PIRRO, HOST, FOX NEWS: It`s time folks, it`s time to shut it down,
turn the tables and lock her up. That`s what I said, I actually said it,
lock her up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Ron, your response?
KLAIN: Well that`s just the jack boot voice of authoritarianism. I mean,
the idea that the President would shut down a lawful investigation, turn
the tables is just simply a word for trying to use raw power to then
imprison his opponent. And you know, that is definitely a way of
governing, it`s the way of governing in North Korea though, not the United
States of America. And I don`t care if you voted for Hillary Clinton or
Donald Trump, I don`t care if you`re a Democrat or Republican, that kind of
comment should be highly offensive to every American.
MELBER: Yes, it`s – and it`s fascinating coming from people that are
known to be communicating with the President or allies of the President.
Thank you, Ron Klain. Philippe, I had some other things I`m going to ask,
I hope you can join me later this week on THE BEAT because there`s more
KLAIN: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Thank you. Now, next up, 12 counts, 31 pages, Paul Manafort not
pleading guilty, so what is his defense and how do Donald Trump`s lawyers
make their arguments? Our special tonight has many different beats, and
our next beat is a lawyer who defended Tom DeLay on the defense strategies.
Stay with us.
MELBER: Big news day with Mueller`s indictments but we still don`t know if
there was collusion between Donald Trump and the Kremlin. We do know a
former Trump adviser lied about his contacts with Russia, and Trump`s Press
Secretary downplayed that role today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you just explain what George Papadopoulos` role
with the campaign was?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: It was extremely
limited. It was a volunteer position. And again, no activity was ever
done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That claim is false. Papadopoulos just admitted some of the
activity, including not only the controversial Russia contacts. The public
record also shows him the center of this huddle during a campaign event
with Donald Trump literally a few chairs down. Paul Manafort`s lawyer
began his defense though today, on the courthouse steps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT`S LAWYER: There is no evidence that Mr.
Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.
The claim that maintaining offshore accounts to bring all your funds into
the United States as a scheme to conceal from the United States government
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by Betsy Woodruff, a Political Reporter for the Daily
Beast who`s been breaking her share of stories here and Brian Wice a
Criminal Defense Attorney who represented former House Majority Leader Tom
DeLay in a conspiracy in money laundering criminal defense appeal. Go to
you, Brian, what is the best defense here for at least these two indicted
individuals from the Trump orbit today?
BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Ari, I hope you guys don`t cancel
my car service for saying this, but I spent lunch going through these 31
pages and it`s difficult to come up with what passes for credible defense.
This is not a murder case where self-defense is an issue, with theft case
where consent or security fraud case involving the statute of limitations.
This is a case that turns on a money trail and a paper trail. And this is
not a situation where a great lawyer can break down a lying cop or a
thieving snitch. In 38 years of practice, I`ve never seen any lawyer be
able to break down an e-mail or a bank robber and get them to confess that
they`ve got it wrong.
MELBER: Right, you`re saying – you`re saying this is a paper case, not a
people case. And while you can find out in people and you can undermine
them before a jury, when the paper is strong, that`s much harder. I guess
I got to ask you the question then. Do you think this is an even harder
defense than that for Tom DeLay?
WICE: You know, in DeLay, Ari, we had a situation where basically nobody
disagreed as to what Tom did. The question was whether or not the
prosecution overreached and created a crime out of a series of innocent
acts. So at the end of the day what the court of appeals found in
acquitting Tom that assuming everything that the prosecution said was true,
it didn`t constitute criminal conduct. That is not this case and if there
is such a thing as a term paper that feels like an A in college, this is an
indictment that feels like a conviction, Ari.
MELBER: It does feel like a conviction, which is striking coming from you.
Although I have to note for the record, Betsy, the good lawyer that Brian
is, he did not exactly answer the question, did not want the compare his
former client directly. But Betsy, what are we hearing on the larger
defense out of the Trump world?
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: The folks that I have
spoken to today who are in that space have taken a fairly bullish tone when
it comes to talking about these issues. And I think one thing that`s
important to remember here is that given that Manafort has been indicted
under FARA, which is the law that bars people from secretly lobbying for a
foreign government in the United States, that`s something that really new.
We haven`t had a serious FARA indictment I believe in decades.
So one thing that we`ve already heard from Manafort`s defense team that
we`re likely to hear going forward is that this is a novel interpretation
of the way that the FARA statute works and that it`s politically motivated.
That`s a case that we can expect Manafort`s defense team to make. My guess
is that the legal process here is going to be quite long, quite drawn out.
It wouldn`t be surprising to me if there are also some criticisms of the
way that the Mueller probe has functioned, potentially even charges of
prosecutorial misconduct from the defense.
MELBER: Right, attacking the prosecutor:
WOODRUFF: Look, they know they`re in a corner, they know it`s going to be
MELBER: Brian, can I ask you a silly question?
WICE: Absolutely, Ari.
MELBER: Would it help Paul Manafort in court to say regardless of what he
is accused of, he doesn`t like Hillary Clinton or she has done bad things?
Is that something that would get him off?
WICE: Well, it depends if they – if they change venue to the Hamptons if
they change venue to the Coal Country of Pennsylvania, your guess is as
good as mine. But I noticed in the clip you played before we came on of
Manafort`s lawyer on the courthouse steps. Yes, a couple really good sound
bites but he addressed probably 1/2 of1 percent of the allegations in this
31-page indictment. He is going to have to do better than ridiculous by
way of mounting a credible defense to these allegations, Ari.
MELBER: Right. And tweeting about Clinton may be a political strategy.
It`s not something that tends to move the judges running the traps or the
jurors making the final call if it gets to that point. Brian Wice and
Betsy Woodruff on a busy news day, thank you so much.
WOODRUFF: Sure thing.
MELBER: And we`ll be right back with the final word here on THE BEAT.
MELBER: There`s a lot we still don`t know about Bob Mueller`s Russia probe
but tonight we can tell you we`ve reached a turning point. You have a
guilty plea in this probe, you have two other indictments that will lead to
trials unless a lot changes. So we tried to answer some of your questions.
If you have more, as always, the best place to get us is
facebook.com/thebeatwithari and I will be answering some of the question
there when you post them. That does it for me. I`ll see you back at 6:00
p.m. Eastern tomorrow. Now it`s “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.
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