GOP push to Oust Mueller Transcript 11/10/17 The Beat with Ari Melber
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: November 10, 2017
Guest: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rick Tyler, Gian-Carlo Peressutti, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Joyce Vance, Howard Fineman, Matt Gaetz, Joyce Vance, Baratunde Thurston, Seth Herzog
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: All I got to get in 70 years down for “MEET THE
PRESS” and now we wish you 70 more.
TODD: That I appreciate, too.
MELBER: Have a great weekend.
TODD: You got it.
MELBER: Yesterday one of the GOP`s leading moral crusaders was accused of
sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old. If you`re watching the news, you
probably heard that story by now. But tonight there are Republicans
defending that candidate even if he did it.
And that is our breaking story. We are hearing directly from Alabama
Senate candidate Roy Moore about these accusations that he had a sexual
encounter with a 14-year-old when he was 32. Now he not only denies this
happening but he says in a new interview that he doesn`t even know one of
these women accusing him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: These allegations are completely
false and misleading. It never happened and I don`t like hearing it
because it never happened. And they`re doing this a month away, four weeks
away, after 40 years in public service.
This woman has waited over 40 years to bring a complaint? Four weeks out
of an election? It`s obvious to the casual observer that something is up.
We`re also doing an investigation and we have some evidence of some
collusion here but we`re not ready to put that to the public just yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Moore says the accusations are coming purely for political
Now it is one thing to deny allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor.
We`re reporting his denials. But there is something else going on tonight
here. Another thing, to know of these accusations and then say, even if
they`re true, you`d still support the candidate. And that`s what we`re
hearing from a lot of Republicans.
One county chair in Alabama saying, quote, “I would vote for Judge Moore
because I wouldn`t want to vote for Doug.” That`s Doug Jones, the Democrat
running against him. Another GOP official in the state says, “Even if the
allegations are true, Moore should still become a senator, because, quote,
“Other than being with an underage person, he didn`t really force himself.”
Let`s get something clear right off the top. People can debate the ethics
of that particular claim but it is wrong under the law. The Alabama
Republican Party official who made that claim, Riley Seibenhener, wrongly
arguing that Moore didn`t force himself and thus had consent from the 14-
year-old he allegedly had this sexual contact with.
No, 14 years old is below the age of consent. That literally means the
child cannot legally consent to any sexual contact with an adult. Now the
age of consent does vary by state. Here is a state where it`s illegal to
have that contact with someone as young as 14. It`s every state. Illegal.
Under federal law as well. That law of course passed by the U.S. Senate
that Moore is now running to join.
Now there is more to the story. As for conservatives there is a response
of people demanding that the accusers now take a polygraph test.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY HOOPER, TRUMP ALABAMA CAMPAIGN CHAIR: I do not believe, one way to
get down to it is just to require them to take a polygraph test. People
are innocent until proven guilty. And in my opinion it`s false. And I`m
supporting Roy Moore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is being accused of relationships with teenagers.
Now to me that`s not accurate and in fact it`s falling in the narrative
that “The Post” tried to set up.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC NEWS: It is a teenager. It`s a 14-year-old, a 16-year-
old and I think two 18-year-olds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re teenagers – the 16-year-old and the 18-year-
old have no business in that story because those are women of legal age of
consent at the time.
VELSHI: But that`s not –
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Every person in this country deserves the
right, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Meanwhile, back in Washington, incumbent Republican senators do
say that Moore must step aside if these allegations are true. Down in
Alabama, it is a different story as we`re reporting. Another Republican
operative saying, there are people behind Moore and, quote, “no one in
Alabama gives a blank expletive what Mitch McConnell and John McCain think
we should do.”
That is the grassroots. There are those who conservative intellectuals who
are appalled. I want to report that as well. Take conservative author and
former “Wall Street Journal” writer Max Boot saying, “I honestly didn`t
think any conservatives would stoop so low as to defend a, quote,
pedophile. Wrong. There is no limit to how far they will to go win
elections. No line they will not cross. No norms they will not
transgress.” He writes, “There is a sickness in the land.”
As for Riley Seibenhener and Jerry Pow, those men I mentioned earlier from
Alabama, and five other Alabama Republican officials defending Moore even
if the allegations are true, we`ve invited them all on THE BEAT to discuss.
So far none have of them have taken us up on the offer. The invite remains
With me now, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
What is your response to what we`re learning tonight?
REP. ELEANOR HOMES NORTON (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Well, first, some
context. What you`ve been talking to people from Alabama. Remember, Judge
Moore was twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court and yet he`s elected
to the Senate.
One, because of same-sex marriage, that refused to recognize, told others
in the judiciary they shouldn`t recognize. Another for the monument
violation – a monument place where in the state house. Both in defiance
of the Supreme Court and now he`s in the U.S. Senate. Look ,if you look at
this three ways.
MELBER: Now he`s running for the U.S. Senate.
NORTON: Yes. You`re right. You look at him as a lawyer as I am. And I
say, statute of limitations round on a criminal matter or even a civil
matter. Look at him as a politician, I am also a politician. Then you
take the view apparently that my Republican colleagues are taking and
saying, if – remember this is important, if true, then he should step
But for a moment, let me look at it as a public official and say, I find it
hard for Roy Moore to serve creditably in the Senate of the United States.
We have four women here. They don`t know each other. Yet they have
corroborated one another. Their stories are almost identical. They didn`t
This is important, Ari, to note. They were found. An enterprising
reporter heard this as a rumor. Traced them out, thank goodness for the
press, found them. And when he found them, they talked.
NORTON: They would not have stepped forward at this time.
MELBER: Now, Congresswoman, as you mentioned, the “Washington Post”
account says there were about 30 sources consulted. Several of the women
were proactively contacted by the journalist and then some of them were
reluctant to speak for all these many reasons that people are.
When you look at these Alabama officials minimizing contact with someone
below the age of consent. What do you think?
NORTON: Well, I really wonder how they can do that. Remember, Roy Moore
offers himself as a profoundly religious man. They are from the bible
belt. And yet can say that a 14-year-old gave consent and so what are you
all worried about? It seems to me they`ve got some introspection to do.
But remember, the context is, they`re used to electing Roy Moore no matter
what he has done.
MELBER: No matter what he does and even when, as you mentioned, a very
conservative court had to kick him out of that office based on his
lawlessness. That`s – again, their words. I`m reporting. Not mine.
Congresswoman, thank you very much.
I want to turn to our panel for all, as you put it, more introspection.
Rick Tyler worked for Ted Cruz, Gian-Carlo Peressutti worked for Bush.
Those are two Republicans. Aisha Moodie-Mills, president of Victory Fund
and a person who works on progressive issues.
So we have a spread here. I could start anywhere but, Rich Tyler, what is
going on with the Republican Party in Alabama tonight?
RICK TYLER, FORMER CRUZ 2016 CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: I don`t know, Ari.
It`s the strangest thing. Roy Moore insists that he`s not guilty and
everybody in the Republican Party in Alabama is making excuses for his
behavior. I haven`t heard a single Republican in Alabama say, I stick with
Roy Moore and that he didn`t do this. They have all kinds of different
justifications for what he did. It was a long time ago. She was allegedly
14. You`ve heard them all. It`s just unbelievable.
MELBER: Well, which is it? Is it the Roy Moore defense that he didn`t do
it or is it all these Alabama Republicans who seemed to think that the
denial isn`t good enough? Because they`re going way farther, and saying,
if these things occurred below the age of consent, illegal in all 50
states, they`re defending that, too.
TYLER: It is the strangest thing I`ve ever seen. And here`s – when you
say someone said look, I would vote for Roy Moore, who`s now an accused
pedophile, over a Democrat, what you`re doing is you`re putting party over
principle. And a party that doesn`t have principle stands for nothing.
And if a party stands for nothing, what does winning really mean?
If it`s just about winning, what is it we win? What is it – if we`re a
conservative party, and the Republican Party has always been the
conservative party, what is it conservatives get just by winning? Are we
willing to sacrifice our party and our principles to stand for nothing and
then for the mere sake of winning?
We already have a president who seems – this is, if you were to ascribe to
him in ideology, I guess it would have to be winning. But as I questioned
Donald Trump all through the campaign, what is it we actually win when we
get him, and he routinely uses misstatements, doesn`t tell the truth. And
now this party is going to say, well, we`ve got to beat the Democrat even
if we have to beat them with a pedophile. I think that`s the end of the
MELBER: Yes. You`re saying these words. I`m hearing these words. We`re
live on TV. I don`t know what to make of these words. I mean, that`s our
job to try to process it. I don`t know how to process it.
Let me play for you Roy Moore whose career I`ve followed for a very long
time because he has been at the intersection of law and politics for a long
time and he is a former judge because his Republican appointed fellow
judges said he was lawless. Here he was, though, crusading against what he
calls sexual perversion sweeping our land.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: Crime, corruption, immorality, abortion, sodomy, sexual perversion,
sweep our land. When we become one nation under God again, when liberty
and justice for all reigns across our land, we will be truly good again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIAN-CARLO PERESSUTTI, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR GEORGE H.W. BUSH: We just
heard two sets of comments. One from Rick Tyler and one from Roy Moore.
Let me just say that I agree 100 percent with what Rick Tyler said and not
at all with what Roy Moore said. I`m no fan of the judge. I don`t think
he belongs within 100 miles of the United States Senate. But I`m also not
automatically willing to concede that he`s a pedophile. And I will tell
MELBER: And we don`t need to.
MELBER: And I cover a lot of cases. I cover a lot of cases and we cover
the denials. And last night on this program I reiterated the denials.
What we`re reporting on tonight, what I didn`t know would be the Friday
night news is not his denials. Which we aired.
MELBER: At the top of the show because he is entitled to his denials and
he`s entitled to his side of the story. What we are covering tonight at
the top of the newscast is multiple Republican officials in Alabama saying
this would be OK.
PERESSUTTI: Completely inexcusable and we shouldn`t even have to dedicate
air time for that. There`s nothing more to say about that. Those people
are wrong and they`re perverted for several reasons and should be silenced,
frankly. Because it`s terrible. But again, that doesn`t mean that Roy
Moore is innocent or guilty of these charges.
PERESSUTTI: What was shocking to me was the degree to which reasonable
Republican who dared to say what frankly Roy Moore said in the beginning,
which was 40-year-old allegations surfacing a month before an election,
those are reasonable claims, those are reasonable questions to ask. And
yet even members of my own party don`t want to even entertain the fact that
that could be accurate. And that`s wrong.
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, PRESIDENT, VICTORY FUND: Here`s the thing that`s
frustrating to me is that we`re sitting here trying to debate whether or
not this guy did it. When in fact this is the latest, you know, political,
like, oh, my god, gotcha revelation about this man. But his character has
always been in question. So we actually need to talk about who Roy Moore
This is a guy who claims to be this devout evangelical Christian who has
this moral compass, who believes that God should be in government, who
espouses these values that, you know, frankly he doesn`t live up to. And
at the end of the day, he has always been a horrible person. He has always
been someone who has only cared about a certain group of people. Generally
like white straight men ultimately.
But his whole moral compass now is broken down and eroded. He is racist,
he hates Muslims, he hates gays, he is adamantly against most of the people
that he would be supposedly representing. And I think that we need to be
talking about who he is and who his character is.
PERESSUTTI: But Aisha –
MOODIE-MILLS: Whether he did or not the guy is still a horrible guy and
shouldn`t be in the U.S. Senate.
PERESSUTTI: But that`s not – I don`t disagree with a single thing you
just said except for the fact that that doesn`t mean that he is a
pedophile. And the fact is, again, reasonable Republicans who dared to say
if true, were castigated by members of their own party and obviously by
members of the left.
MOODIE-MILLS: I think we`re being – I think we`re being distracted by the
fact that –
MELBER: Let me go Aisha and then Rick.
PERESSUTTI: I think that we are getting into this, you know, circle of
being distracted about a debate over whether this guy is a pedophile.
Frankly, at this juncture, 40 years later, we may not be able to prove.
That to me is not the debate and the conversation. Four weeks out from the
election, the conversation should be, is this a man who is fit to serve in
the U.S. Senate? And the truth is, is that his entire career has showed
that he is lawless, he has no regard for the Constitution or the law which
is why he got his – he lost his job twice.
He believes that God should dictate government. He only cares about the
laws that he`s agreed with. This is not someone who should be representing
anyone in government and that`s the point.
TYLER: All right, as you know, this is not going to be adjudicated
legally. There will be no – we will never find out through the legal
judicial process whether he did it or not. But this is all occurring in
the political context which is – which his where it`s at so people have to
decide. They have to decide whether Judge Moore is telling the truth or
that these women are telling the truth and the “Washington Post`s” report
I read the “Washington Post” very carefully and I have to say that given
details, the amount of corroboration, the amount of witnesses that they
interviewed, and four people on the record. And I also know something
about the “Washington Post” because I know a lot of people who work there
is, this would have been edited at the highest level.
You don`t put out a story like this in the middle of an election which
could throw the election one way or the other without thoroughly vetting
it. And so ultimately people have to decide, do I believe this “Post”
story and the allegations or do I not? And that`s how people are going to
decide. But it is absurd to – the idea that even if he is guilty, I would
still vote for him.
MELBER: Right. And that`s what we`re hearing from Alabama, and again,
that invite remains open if any of those folks actually want to stand up
and come on TV and show their faces.
Rick Tyler, Gian-Carlo Peressutti, and Aisha Moodie-Mills, thank you. An
Ahead, other big stories today. Trump`s former National Security adviser
is being investigated by Bob Mueller over a $15 million potential bribe
with a deal with Turkey. It is a doozy.
[18:15:12] Later, inside the right-wing effort to whip up outrage about Bob
Mueller. I have a Republican congressman leading the charge for Mueller to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I join my colleague, the gentleman from Arizona, in
calling for Mr. Mueller`s resignation or his firing.
MELBER: That congressman is here. We`ll talk about it. And I`m excited
about this. Comedian Baratunde Thurston is here on politics, Trump and the
state of the Republican Party.
That`s tonight. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Fairly incredible bombshell landing in Trump world today. This
one also courtesy of Robert Mueller`s investigation.
NBC News reporting the special counsel now investigating whether former
National Security adviser Mike Flynn was making secret bribery deals with a
foreign power. The potential quid pro quo would have given $15 million for
Flynn to act on Turkey`s behalf while ostensibly pretending to serve as a
U.S. official in the White House.
This allegation comes from December 2016 when sources say Turkey was
offering both Flynn and his son money, potentially bribes, so that they
could extradite or kidnap a rival of the Turkish president who currently
lives in Pennsylvania.
This is an incredible story with a lot of tentacles. What you basically
need to know is that this was something the Turks were seeking that the
previous administration, the Obama administration, denied. Now
investigators are examining whether Flynn was going to try to do what
Obama`s folks would not do. And also release a Turkish businessman as well
as that other kidnapping. All of this coming after an investigation from
Preet Bharara who prosecuted that businessman.
Let`s bring in our experts. Howard Fineman, editorial director for the
“Huffington Post,” and a former federal prosecutor under President Obama
Joyce, by my reading, the nature of the potential charges here, they`re
investigating bribery among other things, would be the most serious related
abuses of government power that we know that Mueller has looked at yet.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: That`s right,
Ari. We would be looking at bribery of someone who had been selected to be
a government official. It is an extremely serious charge. The fact
situation here is so convoluted that I think even Tom Clancy would have
rejected it for a novel plot. It`s just being too farfetched.
But the tentacles include not only this apparent $15 million deal for
kidnapping the cleric and smuggling him out of the United States to Turkey
but also a series of other meetings that may be potentially related. And
even the effort to smear Susan Rice for having – you`ll remember the whole
unmasking debate where Susan Rice was allegedly the source of those
Now we hear that there was a meeting between Miss Rice and General Flynn in
which he sought to have her withhold an action that would have been
favorable to the Syrians at the expense of the Turks.
There is really no telling where this one going. The legal jeopardy for
bribery and perhaps a whole host of other violations, though, looks very
MELBER: It is huge. It`s really a huge story.
Howard, putting the law aside, let`s talk national security. How are our
national security interests affected if the person running national
security can be bought for pennies, as far as Turkey`s budget is concerned?
HOWARD FINEMAN, GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, HUFFPOST: Well, a couple of
things. First, let me put it in the context of the overall Mueller
investigation for a second. This is like watching giant anaconda slowly
wrap itself around its prey. The details here on Turkey are fascinating
and chilling because what`s happening here, and keep in mind it`s a subset
of the overall effort to squeeze Michael Flynn and his son, by the way, who
is also in legal jeopardy here.
It`s the guy who`s going to be the national security adviser, who is
already slated to have enormous power, looking apparently, or at least
considering at this meeting a gigantic bribe to get this guy, Fetullah
Gulen, the cleric in Pennsylvania, back to Turkey. Now I know a lot of
Turkish officials over the years, I have a lot of sources here in
Washington who are Turkish. They hate Gulen. They think Gulen is the arch
enemy of Erdogan, the leadership in Turkey. And there`s no higher priority
for Erdogan in Turkey.
The strong end of Turkey that to get this guy Gulen back they`ll do
anything to do it. They are — it sounds like, if the reports are
correct, they were trying to bribe the incoming National Security adviser
and the entering – incoming National Security adviser was at least
apparently, reportedly willing to sit and listen. That is incredibly
chilling but it`s part and parcel of Mueller`s larger effort to put people
in legal jeopardy for the real objective which is Trump and Russia.
MELBER: Right. It`s just that when he turns over this particular rock, he
is finding a lot.
I mean, Joyce –
FINEMAN: Just amazing. I agree.
MELBER: Mike Flynn`s lawyer says they don`t usually comment but they`re
making exception because they said these allegations from kidnapping to
bribery are so outrageous and, quote, “prejudicial,” we`re making an
exception to our usual rule to say they are false.
But Joyce, we also know Mike Flynn is literally the only official that the
acting attorney general Sally Yates said under oath she had to run to the
White House to warn them about potentially illegal conduct.
VANCE: There`s no doubt that his conduct was serious on any number of
fronts. One of the interesting questions is will this have tentacles that
reach from Turkey into Russia. Flynn, of course, was the individual who
spoke at this dinner in Russia where he sat next to Vladimir Putin, was
famously paid handsomely for that task.
And so I think as this investigation really shifts into high gear, I love
the anaconda idea, what we`re seeing emerging that Flynn really may be a
top level defendant in this case. There may be other defendants who are
very important. But you have someone who was the number person in the
White House staff, National Security adviser, a really incredibly important
role for people who aren`t familiar with how the White House is organized
His conduct taking a bribe from a foreign government to influence policy
decisions he was willing to make on behalf of the United States allegedly,
would be a very serious crime, really tantamount to the worst we`ve seen in
MELBER: It is. It is a banner day.
Joyce Vance and Howard Fineman, thank you both.
Coming up, President Trump and Vladimir Putin met face to face briefly and
Putin has a new accusation about meddling in Russian elections. I`ll
Also these growing attacks on Special Counsel Bob Mueller, probing of
course, Russia`s interference.
I have a Republican congressman on pushing for Mueller to be fired. We
MELBER: President Trump attended economic meetings in Asia today. This is
where leaders often wear those matching outfits. Bill Clinton rocking the
gold back in the day. George W. Bush talked with Putin in blue. Obama
rocked the maroon, you might remember that.
Now Trump was shaking Putin`s hand. There you see it. That`s an the
interaction that comes as Putin is accusing the U.S. of meddling in his
election. And his reason? Olympic doping.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The International Olympic Committee just
announced how many Russians athletes would be allowed to compete. A third
of the country`s team has been banned after a major doping scandal.
MATT LAUER, MSNBC HOST: If we take Sochi alone, we know that there was
coordination between Russian officials. They took athletes` urine sample
that`s were dirty and switched them out for sample that were clean.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you accept that doping has been widespread in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also mainly yes. I think mainly yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mainly yes. That`s been going on for a while. But now Putin is
saying that is being used to hurt him and his standing in the election.
That`s not the only thing going on, of course. There`s also a big dilemma
on the Ukrainian border. Former U.S. ambassador to Russia was explaining
this on THE BEAT this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: The only missing
piece is, is he going to agree to provide lethal defensive weapons? That`s
on his desk now. I hope he does it because Putin needs to understand that
the costs are going to increase the longer he drags out this occupation of
MELBER: That`s just to be –
VERSHBOW: But Trump has an opportunity to kind of fix this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The idea there is that there is a test facing Trump standing up to
Putin. No word yet on whether their handshake changes anything.
Now coming up, there`s been a lot of talk about Bob Mueller and potential
conflicts. We`re going to have live on THE BEAT a member of the U.S. House
who says there is a conflict and Mueller should go. We`ll talk about it
MELBER: The White House says it has no plans to oust Special Counsel Bob
Mueller but Trump`s allies are turning up the heat and Congressman Matt
Gaetz just marched to the House floor demanding Mueller resign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: I join my colleague, the gentleman from
Arizona, in calling for Mr. Mueller`s resignation or his firing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Gates and two other members here have a new bill asking the House
to go on record calling for Mueller to recuse himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAETZ: It is federal law that even the appearance of a conflict of
interest means that someone cannot engage in prosecutorial duties regarding
allegations and investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And what is the alleged appearance of conflict? Well, Gaetz says
it`s the fact that Mueller once served as the nation`s top law enforcement
official, head of the FBI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAETZ: Why can`t Mr. Mueller and Mr. Rosenstein conduct had investigation?
First, Mr. Mueller was the head of the FBI in 2009.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: With me now is Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. Thanks
for joining me. Congressman, when you look at these issues, what is a
conflict of interest under the law?
GAETZ: Well, the dispositive legal question is whether or not Bob Mueller
can investigate Russia`s connection to the 2016 election if he has a
conflict of interest as to either of the participants in that election. In
2009 we knew that Russia was trying to infiltrate our uranium assets –
MELBER: Right, before we get to uranium now, I`m asking you a question
which is what is the standard of –
GAETZ: No, but that is –
MELBER: What is the standard of conflict of interest under law? What is
just the conflict of interest standard you`re referencing?
GAETZ: Oh, look, if you have a relationship to a party, or if your own
conduct was part of a transaction, you then cannot come back and
investigate and review that transaction because you are part of the
underlying witness scenario. And in 2009 we have a Russian operative
MELBER: And what is Bob Mueller currently – I just want to go – I know,
but I just want to go in order. What is Bob Mueller currently
investigating in your view?
GAETZ: Well, his charge is to investigate Russia`s involvement in the 2016
election. He has a conflict as to Hillary Clinton because in 2009 he was
at the FBI, Rosenstein was the U.S. Attorney that essentially silenced and
silenced this informant to have this information.
MELBER: Let me – let me ask you this way because I just – I want to say
I`ve heard about – I`ve heard about uranium and I`m sure eventually we`ll
get there. But moving in order, we`ll put up the conflicts rule here.
MELBER: As you know, prosecutors must recuse if they have a personal or
political relationship with people that are involved substantially in the
subject of the investigation or they have a substantial interest. So it
sounds to me like you`re referring to conflict rule one. Who are the
people that Bob –
GAETZ: No, it is the matter, it is – it is the matter –
MELBER: Who are the people – let me ask the question. Who are the people
GAETZ: Hillary Clinton is the person.
MELBER: Who are the people that Mueller is currently investigating? So
you think he`s currently investigating Hillary Clinton?
GAETZ: His charge is to investigate Russia`s involvement in the 2016
election. We now know that one of the reasons Russia may have wanted to
have been involved in the 2016 election is to undermine our uranium assets.
Mueller and Rosenstein were the very people that stopped that Russian
informant from testifying before Congress and sharing those concerns with
the American people. And so because they are involved with both the
parties and the (INAUDIBLE) pattern, that is the conflict.
MELBER: So the person though –the person that you think – you think the
conflict is with – right, the conflict – the person though, you`re
identifying as the source of the conflict is Hillary Clinton? Is that
GAETZ: Correct. Hillary Clinton and the subject matter, and the facts
that lead and influence Russia`s engagement in the 2016 election. Russia
MELBER: So we have no public – I know, I want to get it right. We have
no public reports that Hillary Clinton is a subject of this investigation.
GAETZ: Well, again, it goes to the charge. The charge that Rosenstein
gave Mueller was to investigate Russia`s involvement in the election. The
charge wasn`t just to go – you know, investigate President Trump and his
team. And if Mueller has a conflict as to Hillary Clinton, then, of
course, he would have a de facto conflict as to President Trump and his
team. If you have a conflict in the matter –
MELBER: OK, so now we get to the part you were raising – now we get to
the part you were raising earlier – so now we get to that part. What is
your state of conflict that you see with Hillary Clinton?
GAETZ: As early as 2009, we knew that Russians were trying to undermine
our uranium assets through bribery, kickbacks, and extortion. At that very
same time, you have the State Department not speaking up against this
transaction while the Clinton Foundation was filling out deposit slips from
Russian oligarchs. That appearance of conflict of interest is enough to
have Mueller recuse himself.
MELBER: You haven`t mentioned – Congressman, you haven`t mentioned Bob
Mueller. You just said some things that you believe are bad about Hillary
Clinton. Whether it`s true or not, what is the conflict – wait, hold on,
as you know, you`re a lawyer as well. The conflict –
GAETZ: It`s with Mueller and Rosenstein. Sure.
MELBER: But the conflict you`re alleging, Sir, is that the bad stuff you
just said about Clinton also relates to a link to Bob Mueller, and your
answer didn`t mention Mueller. What exactly with facts or evidence, is the
Mueller link to Clinton here?
GAETZ: Mueller in 2009 was part of the multiagency process that should
have spoken out against the very bribery, the very extortion, the very
kickback that`s ultimately led to the uranium one deal. He had the power
to speak out and either through malfeasance or likely –
MELBER: So you believe – you believe the FBI –
GAETZ: And so because he was part of that fact pattern – let me finish –
because he was part of that fact pattern, he now cannot now go back and
investigate something where he may very well be a witness.
MELBER: You`re stating a belief that the FBI was involved in this uranium
approval, but as you may know, there are nine government agencies involved.
The Washington Post has reported, the FBI was not part of the government
review of the uranium deal. Let me read to you nine –
GAETZ: They absolutely have –
MELBER: Let me just read – let me read to you nine government agencies
make up the government committee that review such deals along with five
other observer agencies. The FBI is not one of them. How do you reconcile
your claim, which you`re entitled to believe and this fact that undermines
GAETZ: The FBI has a counterintelligence mission. No, because look, if
you are to take that position, you have to believe that the FBI isn`t
central to providing information to a variety of agencies with a
counterintelligence mission. Counterintelligence is central to what the
FBI does. And again, it was the Department of Justice with Rod
Rosenstein`s name on the signature block that filed the pleadings that
stopped this Russian informant from exposing the Uranium One transaction
and the Hillary Clinton and Clinton Foundation involvement in that scandal.
MELBER: So you think that because you with the FBI was involved that that
creates the conflict. But they weren`t involved, you have to concede
that`s not a legal conflict –
GAETZ: No, they`re clearly involved – they`re clearly involved –
MELBER: It may be an opinion but not a legal conflict under the code.
GAETZ: It`s not an opinion that the FBI has counterintelligence mission.
MELBER: And let me just mention, and I will give you a chance – let me
give you a chance to respond but you cite – Congressman, you cite 28 CFR
45.2, and that states that you have to have the standard of people
substantially involved and you cite the personal and political conflicts.
And today, and I`m giving you a chance to provide the evidence, you don`t
actually have evidence of how the FBI under the law was linked to any of
this stuff, whether this stuff was bad or not which we haven`t really fully
adjudicated. So is there anything else, I want to give you a chance to
answer this before we go, is there anything else that you think provides a
GAETZ: Sure. The very same federal code that you just cite – the very
same code that you just cite says that even the appearance of a conflict of
interest necessitates recusal. And again, we`re not prosecuting some
street-level drug dealer. People are going after the Trump administration
and thus we should hold to the highest conflict of interest standard.
Because Mueller as the FBI Director had a counterintelligence mission while
there was counterintelligence information linking uranium assets to bribes
at the same time that the Clinton Foundation was taking money from Russian
oligarchs, there is a mountain of admittedly circumstantial evidence but it
is enough to raise the question of conflict and certainly Mueller should
recuse as a consequence.
MELBER: Well, you`ve raised a big issue here and we wanted to hear from
you directly. And Congressman, I really appreciate you taking the time to
come on THE BEAT and giving us your views.
GAETZ: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Thank you, Sir. Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance back with me.
Joyce, I wanted to hear the argument directly. I wanted to explore the law
there. Your view on whether there is legally any foundation of a conflict
here based on what the Congressman said?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: There`s not, and the Congressman`s
argument is really just ridiculous. A lot of criminal defendants try
conflict out a prosecutor, particularly a prosecutor who they believe will
do a good job and will convict them. And that`s exactly what this sounds
like. Fear of Bob Mueller, fear of his steady but careful trip toward
indictments. And on into reaching into some of the highest levels of
government. Look, the Congressman can`t even field a basketball team in
the Congress. Out of the 435 members of the Congress, I think they now
have three on board for this. That tells us a lot. They apparently went
to DOJ and asked that a Special Counsel be appointed to look into the
uranium deal, nothing like that happened here. And as you pointed out,
Ari, when you look at the conflict rules and try to identify, where was
there a financial conflict of interest? Where was there a political
conflict like the one that caused Jeff Sessions to have to recuse himself
from the Russia investigation? There isn`t anything. It`s really easy to
say the word conflict over and over and talk about uranium and Russia.
When you look at the hard facts here, there`s simply is not a conflict.
This is oldest trick in the book to use against a sturdy, conscientious
prosecutor and it`s just really at the end of the day, ridiculous.
MELBER: Well, as Bob Mueller continues to apparently as we`ve been
reporting this week do a lot of work, we may be hearing more about this. I
wanted to hear it directly from the source and also get your expertise as a
former prosecutor. Joyce Vance thank you. Up ahead, changing gears,
Comedian Baratunde Thurston is here to talk politics, Trump, and the state
or the Republican Party.
MELBER: It is another Friday night with a lot of wild news, including
breaking news on how the Alabama Republican Party is defending Roy Moore.
I`m going to get to that in a minute but I have a very special guest as I
mentioned. Baratunde Thurston is an incredible comedian, a friend of mine,
a writer, an analyst and a man who has helped us through Trump era with his
trademark analysis. Let`s take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARATUNDE THURSTON, WRITER, COMEDIAN, AND COMMENTATOR: When you have a new
leader in the world take power, and literally 70 nations oppose it, like in
24 hours, millions of people, half of the gender stood in opposition to him
the day after. Scientists are having a rally. Science is opposed to a
president. That`s pretty cool. Like what`s next? Like people who drink
water, like DNA-based life forms?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Baratunde`s coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention is
archived in the library of Congress. He`s a bestselling New York Times
Author. I could go on.
THURSTON: You could. I mean, I don`t mind just continue. It sounds good
MELBER: So you are an interesting thinker here, you`re also an incredibly
positive person. I mean, I think that`s part of the way you`re at least –
when I`ve been around, you know how your mind and your comedy works.
THURSTON: Yes, yes.
MELBER: Here we are on a Friday night and we`re covering not just
allegations of the sexual misconduct of a 14-year-old by a person who built
his career around sexual moralizing Roy Moore. But very prominent
Republicans ins his state of Alabama saying even if true –and he denies it
– even if true, this would be OK.
THURSTON: Yes. I want to point out a few things first. Your screen
behind you is beautiful and your notepad doesn`t leave a lot of usable area
to write on. It`s half logo.
MELBER: That`s – it is true. It`s half logo. Yes.
THURSTON: So for folks at home, strong branding for THE BEAT here with Ari
Melber. I am – I`m saddened, I`m disappointed, I`m disgusted, I`m
exhausted about what`s happening with the GOP in Alabama. A friend of
mine, (INAUDIBLE), she shared a metaphor with me. A comparison really of
this tale of two different sets of four girls. The four girls who were
bombed in a 16th street church that Doug Jones were most opponent helped
prosecute effectively and send several of them to jail for domestic
terrorism and abuse of children versus Roy Moore who thought it would be a
good idea to abuse his age, his power, his reputation. He was an assistant
district attorney at the time that these alleged act took place. And for
someone who is so moralizing, who`s so full of law and order to have
transgressed in such a disgusting way kind of gives exposes to the lie that
part of it he`s aligned with, especially those in Alabama right now, a far
more interested in maintaining power than representing the people, in
offering solutions that actually mattered for.
MELBER: You talk about power. The news coming in just literally this hour
because we`re covering this. The top of the hour we were covering the
defense from state officials who I invited to come on the show. At this
point, I could tell you breaking, the RNC here of Alabama – talk about
power – says we won`t remove Roy Moore as a candidate. So that`s –
they`re – that`s what they`re taking into the weekend. They`re trying to
shut it down the effort that even if you say well, I still want to vote
Republican or I still want to vote against Democratic Party, which is
obviously the voting record of Alabama recently, the notion that you might
find someone else, now they`re trying to make sure that doesn`t happen.
THURSTON: It`s not surprising given that this is the same party that
welcomes another serially accused sexual abuser into power. That would be
our current President, right, the head to the essentially what the crime
family as we`re finding out more and more every day. So when you allow
Donald Trump, you encourage Roy Moore. And I don`t think –
MELBER: You see that link.
THURSTON: I definitely see that link. Here`s someone who is known for
cheating. His vendors and his contractors is known for saying (AUDIO GAP)
on air despicable and disgusting things about women. So a party that is so
embraced that and been OK for the purposes of power, like are you so afraid
of raising the minimum wage that you`re cool with child molestation?
Because that`s the choice that we`re being forced to make here. Are you so
excited about corporate tax cuts that you can condone this sort of
behavior? And Roy Moore was disgusting before this. This is a guy who
literally dragged the ten commandments into public property, into the
courthouse. He has an imaginary view of what the first amendment says.
He`s willing to stand firmly against the rights of homosexuals to exist.
He`s willing to imagine that a Muslim, Keith Ellison, shouldn`t be allowed
to serve in Congress. These were his on the record positions. And there`s
nothing new about his distance from the values that really make us
American. But as someone who is a judge who has been elected, he should be
familiar with all of that. And he`s shown that he doesn`t care and the
people who want the power that he could offer are showing that they don`t
MELBER: Yes. I mean, you put it – you put it well. You didn`t cheer me
up but I know –
MELBER: Right, well, let me –
THURSTON: Here`s the –
MELBER: – I want to fit in a break. I want to fit in a break.
THURSTON: All right.
MELBER: You know how we do that.
MELBER: I`m going to fit in a break, you`re staying here.
THURSTON: I am staying.
MELBER: If anyone liked what Baratunde was just analyzing, there will be
more Baratunde on “FALLBACK FRIDAY.”
TRUSTON: Five seconds.
THURSTON: There is a choice. There`s always a choice. We had a choice
year ago. Naturally, we chose a difficult path. Doug Jones is a real
person. It`s not just about Roy Moore.
THURSTON: These elections are about choices. I`m looking forward to the
people of Alabama making the right choice regardless of what GOP down there
puts in front of them.
MELBER: Choices. Let`s fit in a break. “FALLBACK FRIDAY” with Baratunde
MELBER: We made it. It is Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that
means. It`s time to fallback. We`ve got music, we`ve got Baratunde back
THURSTON: You`re so whack.
MELBER: The music is whack?
SETH HERZOG, COMEDIAN: It is. Especially for you who`s all about music.
You don`t talk unless it`s like in rap form. You should get better music.
MELBER: Were happy with the music because we – this is music we didn`t
have two option. Like if you –
HERZOG: Oh, that`s what it sounds like. It sounds exactly like –
THURSTON: You get what you pay for.
HERZOG: It sounds like when you get a keyboard, it`s number three.
THURSTON: Like the Casio free select –
HERZOG: It`s the three button.
MELBER: It sounds like the Casio three. Well, you know what you`re saying
is going to hurt someone`s feelings who works here.
HERZOG: OK. Well, pick number four.
THURSTON: Give that person a budget.
MELBER: Now is the time on the show where I say sad, who needs to
HERZOG: I think, you know, there`s a new app called Frog I.D. and it`s
just (INAUDIBLE) for frogs.
THURSTON: You`re kidding.
HERZOG: No. I swear to God. So you can hold it up to a frog and it will
tell you what kind of a frog this is.
THURSTON: Is this a big problem we need solved?
HERZOG: It`s a giant problem. I just think like this other needs for the
apps. Like this should be Shazam for people. Like, how do I know this
person? We made out in college. Got it.
MELBER: What if someone has frog facial aphasia?
HERZOG: Like facial aphasia? Like –
MELBER: For frogs.
HERZOG: What do you mean?
THURSTON: That they can`t recognize –
MELBER: The frog community is not monolithic, man.
HERZOG: Oh, yes, yes –
THURSTON: But it`s not designed for frogs. It`s designed for people.
HERZOG: No, it`s not for frogs. It sound like frogs walk around with
iPhones on their belts and then you thought you want to know who other
MELBER: I though you just – I thought you just said it was called Frog
HERZOG: It`s Frog I.D. So humans can figure out –
MELBER: Right, so humans can get what frogs are.
MELBER: Is this real?
THURSTON: Apparently it is. It`s a massive industry.
THURSTON: Real problems.
MELBER: Baratunde, who needs to fallback?
THURSTON: I think Apple needs to fallback. I think, first of all, it`s
still not over the removal of the headphone jack. It was doing perfectly
fine for me. More importantly –
MELBER: I feel the same way.
THURSTON: – it`s come out this weekend the paradise papers, the extent to
which they`ve tried to hide their money. They`ve got $250 billion sitting
in Ireland along with a bunch of other mega-rich people. And these are the
same people who get celebrated for being philanthropist and donating and
trying to save schools. We wouldn`t need your philanthropy to save schools
if you just paid taxes that funded the schools in the first place. So I
think when we talk about income and equality and wealth disparity, part of
it comes down to folks cheating and having this whole separate economy. So
Apple that has this beautiful image that charges $1,000 for a phone should
bring that money home and pay your taxes.
MELBER: Well, isn`t that – isn`t that a funny thing because Apple has
this reputation as a cool or positive company?
THURSTON: Yes. And they use that to get away with dirt like this.
THURSTON: And, you know, how you spend your money is in large part of
where your values are and Apple doesn`t want to spend its money right here,
even though this is the place that they`re kind of (INAUDIBLE)
MELBER: I appreciate you bringing important international tax issues to
MELBER: As you say, our budget – our tax, that is important.
Unfortunately, I have something even more important.
THURSTON: OK, what`s that.
HERZOG: Oh, I can`t wait.
MELBER: Nutella needs to fallback.
THURSTON: Be careful, be careful.
MELBER: My favorite – my favorite spread. They quietly changed their
beloved recipe boosting skim milk powder by one percent, cutting sugar by
less than half a percent. This is wrong. I`m taking a stance. And if –
it`s perfect and I can spread it on anything, don`t change it.
HERZOG: They should call this Nutella NEW-TELLA.
MELBER: New-tella. Did you just think of that just now?
MELBER: This is why he`s a comedian.
THURSTON: This is why he`s back all the time.
HERZOG: Yes. (INAUDIBLE)
MELBER: Baratunde, do you have any other nominees to fallback?
THURSTON: I mean, I always on a weekly basis want Facebook to fallback. I
think this is –
MELBER: Speaking my language.
THURSTON: This is a company that is always adding information that it can
extract from us to sell against our activity, against our likes. I`m being
stalked right now by Mahabi`s Slippers thanks to Facebook. For some
reason, they think I really need these slippers.
HERZOG: Did you mention it once in a conversation?
MELBER: Or did you think about it and Mark Zuckerberg knew.
THURSTON: I had a dream – I had a dream about slippers once and Facebook
somehow inferred it from the way I type and now they`re chasing me across
the internet with all these preferences. Look, I think it`s very
disturbing the way they`ve hidden behind the influence that they may have
had over the last election. And, look, (INAUDIBLE) spent $27 billion of
Facebook in 2016 because they`re influential. So don`t tell me that you
didn`t think that you could affect peoples` decisions.
MELBER: A great pointed about falling back. Baratunde and Seth, thank
you, both. I will see you back here Monday night 6:00 p.m. Eastern on THE
BEAT. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2017 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.