Mueller probe sparks FBI raid of Trump lawyer. TRANSCRIPT: 04/09/2018. The Beat with Ari Melber

Guests:
Jennifer Rubin, Max Boot, Paul Butler, Jim Messina, Michael Avenatti, Cheri Jacobus
Transcript:

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: April 9, 2018
Guest: Jennifer Rubin, Max Boot, Paul Butler, Jim Messina, Michael Avenatti, Cheri Jacobus


KATY TUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Her second daughter, Miley Pearl Boulsby was
welcomed into the world earlier today. Congrats to the senator and her
family.

That`s all for today. We will be back tomorrow with more MTP DAILY.

THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Lots of news, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: A lot. Thank you very much, Katy.

Donald Trump denied paying Stormy Daniels any money on Thursday. Then he
ducked further questions by memorably telling the world, ask Michael Cohen.
Well, the FBI must have been listening, because today they are asking. FBI
agents are raiding Michael Cohen`s office.

Now, tonight`s breaking news is also breaking a precedent. An FBI raid of
a sitting President`s personal lawyer, all of this sparked by evidence
gathered, yes, by special counsel Bob Mueller. Now let me report to you
what we know and why it matters.

First, FBI agents in New York conducting a raid this afternoon on an office
and a hotel used by Michael Cohen, who is Trump`s personal lawyer. He is
also a longtime executive at the Trump organization. He is the man that
Trump put that extra heat on in that unusual air force one statement
Thursday. Now Cohen is also the center of two of Donald Trump`s largest
legal problems, the Russia probe and the $130,000 payment to Stormy
Daniels.

Second, the raid collected evidence on Cohen`s role in getting money to
Stormy Daniels, as well as other records, this according to “The New York
Times,” such as emails, tax documents, and business records.

So right there, you have the President`s lawyer and fixer, a confidant who
predates Trump`s days in politics losing control of all kinds of obviously
important material. The feds have it now.

And then there`s item number three. The reason that it`s always tricky to
get a judge to approve a search on a lawyer`s office. Tonight the FBI
seizing quote “private communications between Cohen and Trump himself.”

Now, Cohen`s team says the search was inappropriate for that reason, among
others. And Donald Trump may not use email, but we know Michael Cohen
does. Now his private emails and any records he has about things that
Trump said, from secrets about the Trump organization to Stormy Daniels to
maybe other NDAs, again, they are all in the fed`s hands tonight which
makes it all the more odd that Donald Trump said what he said on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to ask Michael
Cohen. Michael`s my attorney and you will have to ask Michael.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: All of that is all coming home to roost tonight. And some of this
is important because it shows why this matters and who has the most heat on
them.

Now, consider the vast majority of people caught up in this probe have been
asked for documents or they get a subpoena. Trump org got a subpoena. You
see people on TV like Sam Nunberg who got a subpoenas. The only people, I
can tell you this as a fact, the only people that has been publicly
confirmed that they have had an FBI raid on their office is Paul Manafort
and Michael Cohen. Manafort`s home, of course, was raided. Ninety-seven
days later, he was indicted.

Now, Michael Cohen is a lawyer. He knows what it means when the feds raid.
It means they convince adjudge there`s either evidence of a crime or
credible concern that key evidence will be destroyed.

And I can also tell you tonight, this is historic in a bad way. You know
during the entire Watergate scandal, which toppled a President, the FBI
never raided any of President Nixon`s personal lawyers. That`s according
to Watergate prosecutor, Nick Ackerman, who asked about this tonight.

And finally, the other reason why this matters, Bob Mueller doesn`t get a
criminal referral for something up in New York, potentially outside of his
jurisdiction, without going to Rod Rosenstein, which reportedly he did.
And tonight Rod Rosenstein didn`t say stop, red, he didn`t say, yellow,
slow down. He said green. And he sent these agents to Michael Cohen`s
office and to his hotel tonight. And this is big news.

Let me turn now to an expert panel. Former federal prosecutor, Paul
Butler. Krystal Ball, President of the people`s project, former New Jersey
senator Robert Torricelli.

Let me start with the prosecutor. If you back when you were at DOJ, wanted
to do something like this, how high does it go?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You have to go all the way up to
the attorney general or the deputy attorney general. This is a search
warrant on steroids. The President`s lawyer, his own personal lawyer, who
on Thursday he is referring reporters to is now the target of a search
raid, which means that the investigators do not trust this man. They are
concerned that if they just issue a subpoena for the documents, he is going
to take out the paper shredder. So, again, another gangster move by
special counsel Robert Mueller. He follows the investigation, lets the
investigation go whatever the leads take him.

MELBER: You are saying this is not white-collar or kid gloves. This is
going after it like you would go after any other criminal enterprise?

BUTLER: Yes. And that`s constantly been his method. And I think the
comparison to Manafort has been exactly right. Manafort had the same
thing. Middle of the night, no-knock search warrant. So again, Mueller
does not trust these guys. He has persuaded the United States attorney for
the southern district of New York who is handling this investigation that
Cohen is not trustworthy.

MELBER: There was a lot of talk about subject versus target with regard to
Mueller`s view of the President. Can you say anything what this means
about Michael Cohen`s exposure?

BUTLER: Yes. I think he is a subject about to graduate to becoming a
target. You know, as a practical matter, the standard for a search warrant
is probable cause. Common sense, realistic, if it`s the President`s
attorney, it`s a way higher standard than that. You have to have pretty
compelling evidence of criminality to get Rod Rosenstein to sign off on a
search warrant for the President`s lawyer.

MELBER: Senator, do you agree with that?

ROBERT TORRICELLI (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY SENATOR: I do. I will tell you,
as a member of the bar and as a civil libertarian, I don`t believe in
raiding lawyers` offices. But more important, neither do the senior people
in the justice department, absent compelling evidence.

To convince the deputy attorney general of the United States. The United
States attorney for the southern district of New York, a Trump appointee,
and a federal judge to allow a raiding of a lawyer`s office involved in a
criminal case. It is hard to put sufficient weight on that for your
audience. It does not usually happen.

Now, I think where a lot of your colleagues, all afternoon I have been
watching, how wrong this is, they didn`t do this because they think there`s
a campaign finance violation. They did this because either they believe he
is in conspiracy to obstruct justice or because evidence is being
destroyed.

MELBER: You think – you are putting your finger on something very
important. You think, because of the high bar it takes to go at any
lawyer, given the attorney/client confidentiality rules, let alone the
sitting President`s lawyer, this is more than a far-flung FEC campaign
theory. You think there is some other indicia evidence of crime or
conspiracy.

TORRICELLI: I have listened to that from your colleagues all afternoon.
That is ridiculous. This is not a campaign finance violation. Under the
Edwards case, that was a problematic case to begin with. It is a
correctable offense. It is not that level of offense. They have evidence
of some kind of obstruction of the process.

MELBER: Well. And we are On the Record on this show of reporting exactly
why it is unlikely that you would bring a criminal charges based on the
Stormy payment to Michael Cohen. Indeed, I have had communications with
Michael Cohen about our reporting on that front. I would say as someone
who has given, you know, given that analysis once, what I`m seeing tonight
as a lawyer, and along with your analysis is, something bigger than the FEC
is at foot.

TORRICELLI: Something bigger. Let`s take it to the next step. One of the
reasons the justice department does not usually do this is, because they do
have a probe going on – obviously, these are sorted efforts. And when you
raid a lawyer`s office, I don`t care if they have some kind of a Chinese
firewall, you are still making your case problematic. You can violate
attorney/client, you can complicate your case. So there was a compelling
reason to do this. They were willing to take the risk with the case,
willing to take a risk of going to a federal judge, and everybody said,
yes, along the way.

So, here is what I have not heard said all afternoon. Is Rod Rosenstein in
his job tomorrow? Does Donald Trump go through this evening without firing
the U.S. attorney for the southern district or Rod Rosenstein? I think
that`s an open question.

MELBER: Let me take that point to Krystal Ball and read the reporting from
Bloomberg as well as some of our own folks working on this.

Mueller brought the information involving Cohen to Rod Rosenstein, who
decided the matter should be handled by the U.S. attorney for the southern
district of New York rather than by Mueller`s team. When people ask, is
the system work? I mean, that Preet Bharara`s former position, the
question who was there now? Who runs the FBI after deputy director, the
director have been removed? The pressure on Sessions and Rosenstein?
Tonight is a night when the system appears at this hour to be working, the
senator says, what happens next hour?

And Krystal, there`s reporting that Donald Trump is watching this all live
on TV as he sees evidence gathered from Cohen`s office and Trump knows
better than most people what Cohen has in there.

KRYSTAL BALL, PRESIDENT, PEOPLE`S HOUSE PROJECT: That`s exactly right.
And to just talk about Michael Cohen as Trump`s personal lawyer understates
that relationship. I mean, first, this relationship goes back more than a
decade. Michael Cohen has said he would take a bullet for the President.
Has told Katy Tur and others those exact words. He described working for
Donald Trump. He said, he is more than our boss, he is our patriarch.

So if he was, indeed, the fixer, as he is essentially said he was on the
Stormy Daniels issue, what else has he been the fixer on? What else does
he know? What other documentation is there? And so I think the senator is
right to focus on the fact that this wasn`t just about Stormy Daniels,
right? The reporting says that this was tax documents, this was business
records, this was other email communications.

And as you point out, Donald Trump is in a position to know, to some
extent, he may not even know the full extent of what Michael Cohen has, but
he knows how far this goes and how problematic it is for him, personally.

MELBER: Let me follow up with another question to you on that, which is,
what we are seeing at this stage in the probe is evidence, an indication of
intense interest in the older advisers, in Michael Cohen and Roger Stone.
We are moving away from some of these other people who have either pled out
or maybe didn`t know Donald Trump for all that long.

I want to play Sam Nunberg, who did have his falling out with the President
and with roger stone, talking about Michael Cohen during our interview here
on THE BEAT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: I worry about Michael. I`m not going to
say Michael is going to lie. I`m worried about Michael. Michael Cohen got
screwed the most I ever saw by anyone, by Donald Trump. And what I worry
about is what Michael`s going to say when he`s called in by someone like
Andrew Wiseman about the banks.

MELBER: Was it Mueller?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Krystal, you have worked in politics. It is a nonpartisan fact
that loyalty is prized in politics. The difference is whether you have
ethical and legal lines around how you pursue loyalty because there`s also
loyalty to the country.

BALL: Right.

MELBER: Your view of these people and their view of loyalty – you
mentioned the bullet – is Michael Cohen in a place where as the FBI goes
through this material, as he is under this heat, his loyalty remains only
to Donald Trump, not to his higher obligation as a lawyer or a citizen?

BALL: Well, up to this point, what we have seen is exclusive loyalty to
Donald Trump. So if past is an indication of what we expect to continue to
see, you know, that loyalty has been second to nothing else including
claiming to pay his own personal funds to Stormy Daniels in the amount of
$130,000 to try to cover Trump on that piece. So I think that absolutely
is the direction that he would go in.

And I think it`s worth, also, backtracking a little bit, where this all
comes from. It was Jared Kushner who pushed Donald Trump reportedly, to
fire Comey. Comey leads to the special counsel and that`s what leads to
this referral. So when they said they were going to really look at
everything that was going on, that they were going to take the evidence
wherever it leads, I mean, this is part of that piece, where you end up
raiding the President`s personal lawyer`s office.

MELBER: I want to do a lightning round, yes or no to all of you, and as we
continue. Do you think Donald Trump, who is not known for regret or self-
assessment, self-reflection, I think it`s fair to say, Krystal.

BALL: Fair.

MELBER: Do you think as he watches this TV coverage, because we have out
on good authority that he is watching and he knows they are going through
the files and he knows what`s in those files, do you think he regrets
saying on Thursday, “ask Michael Cohen”?

BALL: I think he regrets it. And I think he regrets allowing the special
counsel to cross that red line he laid down earlier of going into the
business transactions. Because he knows there`s a lot of dirt there.

MELBER: I`m actually going to interrupt the lightning round. I think we
have some breaking news, I`m being told.

“Washington Post” is reporting that there are a range of allegations here
against Michael Cohen, that this includes potential bank fraud, potential
wire fraud, and a probe of the wider campaign finance issues.

So that`s fresh from “the Washington Post,” breaking as we sit here. And
this is – this is germane to the question, which I turn to each of you on.
If that`s what happens when you ask Michael Cohen, if this is what pressure
looks like, Paul, does the President regret saying that Thursday?

BUTLER: Unless he is crazy about the idea of now having not one, but two
great teams of prosecutors and investigators looking at him. So apparently
Mueller asked Rosenstein, can we look at this? And it sounds like
Rosenstein said, this is something that might be more appropriate for this
other district, for the U.S. attorney for New York. And so the result of
that is, he`s got two hard-core prosecutors looking at not only the lawyer,
Cohen, but also Trump.

And Krystal`s point about Cohen`s very expansive role is germane here,
because there is an attorney/client privilege. There is not a privilege
for Mr. Fix-it. There`s not a fix-it privilege.

BALL: Or a privilege on taxes or financial transactions or business
records.

BUTLER: And you can`t use conversations with your attorney to evade
criminal activity. And so what the FBI does is have what`s called a tank
team. So these are lawyers and prosecutors who aren`t working on the
investigation. They go through the documents. They conduct the raid, go
through the documents, and they only turn over to the investigators
documents that aren`t – that aren`t protected by the attorney/client
privilege.

TORRICELLI: And that`s very risky for the government, for a defense team
to go after which is why I`m so convinced this is a serious case. They
wouldn`t have taken that risk. There are two things –

MELBER: Does he regret it?

TORRICELLI: There`s two things Donald Trump is not capable of. Regret.
And playing defense.

MELBER: OK.

TORRICELLI: Which means watch the next 24 hours. He will pivot on the
offense.

MELBER: And he will try to change the conversation.

Also for the whole panel, when you hear “bank fraud,” does that sound like
something that is constrained to Michael Cohen as a lawyer? Or does it
sound like something that could infect a wider circle, when you know he was
a senior Trump org executive?

TORRICELLI: Let me tell you. I have watched the Trump organization for
years, because –

MELBER: Because you live –

TORRICELLI: The Donald was once the largest employer in New Jersey. Let
me explain the Trump organization. There`s a wonderful scene in “the
Godfather.” But Tom Hagen is asks about his representation of Michael
Carleone. He says, I have a very unusual law practice. I have a single
client who insists on hearing bad news immediately. This is not a law firm
down the block, that has a variety of clients. This is a lawyer with a
single client. And they are inseparable and the actions of one are the
actions of the other.

MELBER: It sounds like you are coming very close to saying an
investigation of bank fraud by Michael Cohen is an investigation of bank
fraud by Donald Trump.

TORRICELLI: And again, I think the standard to have raided that office
today, I can`t say this enough to your audience, is so high that they
believe that in that bank fraud, not just that it exists, but something
must be done to undo –

MELBER: So Paul, I go back to you, because we are full circle. And the
reason why the Stormy Daniels case so instructive because it is a template
of a legal strategy that is used in more than just that kind of case. The
fact that Donald Trump both pushed hard allegedly for an NDA, he entered
the case claiming the NDA protects him, but wouldn`t sign it, gives a hint
to his approach to incriminating evidence and tells you why it might be so
hard in a collusion probe finding him signing or touching anything if he
wont even sign the NDA we wanted.

With that in mind and the senator`s very careful line, do you see any other
echo here? Do you think that it`s possible that the going rogue defense
they used on Stormy Daniels will be teed up on bank fraud or anything else,
if Michael Cohen is under investigation for bank fraud, which is what “the
Washington Post” is reporting, even if it`s rogue bank fraud, wasn`t for
the Trump org.

BUTLER: When I hear bank fraud, from a prosecutor`s perspective, that`s an
easy crime to prove because it`s all on paper. It is all computer
transactions. And so, if he is being charged of that, there`s pretty
compelling evidence that he is guilty of that. And what do we know that
Mueller loves to do? He loves to flip witnesses, you know. He likes to
coheres people or really –.

MELBER: I`m cutting in, not to be rude, but to be breaking.

“The Washington Post” Carol Leonnig has phoned into “THE BEAT.” She broke
this story on the “Washington Post.”

Carol, what can you tell us?

CAROL LEONNIG, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (on the phone): First off,
you know, this story began with a raid on multiple homes and offices of
Michael Cohen`s. And it ended with us learning today, later on today,
actually, that the search warrant seeks information and cites particular
statutes that prosecutors are eyeing they believe Michael Cohen possibly is
somebody they should be investigating for bank fraud, wire fraud, and
violations of election law. Wherever a prosecutor issues a search warrant
and seeks one, they have to say, what is the crime you think you are
investigating? These are the three crimes they have named.

MELBER: And so, when you look at those crimes, do they have any indication
of whether they are Michael Cohen crimes or larger conspiracies that could
involve other people?

LEONNIG: So we spent a lot of time today talking to everyone in Michael
Cohen`s world, trying to understand what this raid sought and what it could
be examining. And we have heard from a couple of different sources close
to him that a lot of the search is about his personal business, his
personal finances. And the importance of this is, of course, did he
misstate how he made this payment, did he misstate to a bank where the
penalties are quite severe if you lie to a bank. Did he state that the
money was for particular purpose and that wasn`t what it was for? Did he
say something on his tax return that was inaccurate? Most of what we`ve
heard has to do with requests for information about him personally.

However, remember that the payment is alleged to have been made to silence
a woman who had information and said she was going to claim that Donald
Trump and she had an affair. So does this lead back ultimately to the
President? Only the investigators know the answer to that question. But
it`s a big question looming over this.

MELBER: Do you have indications from your reporting over how surprised or
expected the raid was? We have been reporting here about just how unusual
this is by any standard.

LEONNIG: So, our understanding is that very soon after the door was kicked
in, at Mr. Cohen`s office, that the White House was alerted that the
President`s lawyer and longtime friend, Michael Cohen, was under scrutiny.
So the President had been aware of this information much sooner than we
were.

MELBER: And that, itself, obviously, unusual. What was the process or do
you have any indication on how he was alert queued?

LEONNIG: My understanding, although we have not confirmed this with the
lawyer himself, was that Michael Cohen`s lawyer contacted the White House.

MELBER: So that was through the receiving end of it, not the DOJ?

LEONNIG: Correct.

MELBER: And do you know, in any way, what stage they are at? I made the
point, and again, these things are rough, but I made the point that it was
about a little over three months between in the Paul Manafort case, a raid
and an indictment. Do you have any sense of where they are in this case?

LEONNIG: Well, I like your time frame and it`s true that some cases go
exactly as that one did. But I think every case is different. Everyone
has a different recipe. For all we know, Mueller kicked this case to the
southern district of New York months and months ago. We just don`t know.

MELBER: Carol, I`m going to read the notes I just received. I want to be
clear with viewers, this is not an exact quote. This is a note transcript
of the President speaking on this case. Have you heard this yet? He just
spoke about Cohen.

LEONNIG: Let`s hear.

MELBER: OK, you will hear and my panel is still with me.

Seated next to the vice President and John Bolton, the President says, I
just heard they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, a
good man, it`s a disgraceful situation, a witch hunt. Here we are talking
about Syria and I have this witch hunt constantly going on. You could say
right after I won the nomination it started. It`s an attack, he says, on
what we all stand for.

And then Donald Trump, who`s known to talk about the rigged system said, I
heard it like you did, and I said, that`s a whole new level of unfairness.
And then he goes on to speak about some other things including Hillary
Clinton. And they he goes on to say, they raided an office of a personal
attorney. It is a disgraced. The attorney general made a terrible mistake
when he, I believe is a reference through recusal, I`m reading notes. And
he says, he should have let us known and goes on from there.

We are going to play. I believe we are going to have video of that. It`s
a pool spray in a few minutes. But I want to read that immediately. I`m
going to add Richard Painter to this conversation. Bull Carol, first, as
someone reporting this out, your reaction to the President`s comments.

LEONNIG: Well, I see that this is a continuation of the President`s
intense frustration with the Mueller probe. He believes it`s unfair. He
believes it`s raised questions about the legitimacy of his presidency. He
has been furious internally and privately that this makes it look as though
Russia and Putin inserted him into the oval office.

However, in this instance, Robert Mueller has come across something and
appears, at least on the pieces of information that we have so far, and
remember, we don`t have all the pieces, but this appears to be a case where
Mueller is saying, I`m not interested in investigating this, but other U.S.
attorneys may be. And other U.S. attorneys served this search warrant. So
this – while it may have come to Mueller`s attention, it`s one that`s
actually being pursued by the normal criminal justice system that has been
in existence long before Mueller was appointed and long before there was an
investigation of Russian interference in our election.

MELBER: Right. And you make that point against the backdrop of a
President who has fired the FBI director and deputy director, who has
complained about what he views as the politics of the DOJ, while according
to most experts, politicizing the DOJ and this process playing out with
what we might call out the extent DOJ resources and prospects.

Carol, I want to thank you for your reporting.

I want to bring in Richard Painter who is a former White House ethics chief
under George W. Bush. My panel stays with me.

As we approach the half hour, Richard, I want to mention for viewers tuning
in, the breaking news tonight is an historic and unusual event. The lawyer
for the President of the United States, his personal attorney and a
longtime executive of a Trump organization having, as Carol put it to me
moments ago, his door kicked in for an FBI raid. “The Washington Post”
following up with reporting that that relates to bank fraud and campaign
finance violations. This coming out of the New York FBI field office. And
moments ago, the President saying this is a witch hunt. That`s not all
that new, but he calls this a new level of disgrace.

Richard Painter, is this a new level of disgrace? Is the DOJ working as
it`s supposed to? What is the significance, in your view, as someone who`s
worked at a White House lawyer yourself?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CHIEF UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: The
DOJ is doing its job. And I should emphasize that Robert Mueller is also
doing his job. He may very well have discovered evidenced of money
laundering and other crimes outside the scope of the Russia investigation.
And he did what any prosecutor does who discovers evidence of a crime
outside the scope of their jurisdiction, he turned it over to another
prosecutor. The southern district of New York obtained this warrant.

This is not Robert Mueller exceeding the scope of his investigation. And I
am concerned that President Trump is going to try to use this as an excuse
to fire the attorney general, to fire Robert Mueller. That`s going to
create a constitutional crisis if he does that.

What we have is evidence that was uncovered of money laundering or other
financial crimes outside the scope of the Russia investigation, but that
are being investigated by the attorney, the United States attorney in the
southern district of New York, under the law. And the President of the
United States is not above the law. And if he tries to fire the attorney
general, fire Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein or anyone else as a result of
this, he is going to be in violation of his office under the constitution
and he will be obstructing justice.

This investigation is going to have to proceed and it`s certainly very
worrisome that a lawyer for the President of the United States is engaged
in conduct so sufficiently egregious that the FBI can get a search warrant.
Because that is extremely unusual.

I very, very, very rarely have seen prosecutors get a search warrant on a
lawyer`s office to obtain information about what that lawyer is doing for
clients. It`s very difficult to get that. It requires a high degree of
evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

MELBER: And we were discussing that on the show tonight, that the fact
that you have got the door kicked in at Trump lawyer Michael Cohen`s home
and – excuse me, hotel and office, suggests that a lot of people signed
off on it. The reporting being the acting attorney general, Rod
Rosenstein, and then, of course, a judge in our constitutional system.

I wonder, then, Richard, what you think of Donald Trump`s statement that
this is something that for him brings back the recusal issue, as he says.
When he says, the attorney general made a material mistake when he recused
himself moments ago, does that suggest that Donald Trump is yet again, like
the Lester Holt interview, expressing an inappropriate view of the justice
department, the implication being the attorney general should not have
recused himself, so he could protect against this kind of thing, i.e.,
obstruct justice.

PAINTER: Yes, he think the attorney general`s job is to cover up for
President Trump. And to engage in obstruction of justice. That`s not what
the attorney general does. My concern is that President Trump is once
again indicating that attorney general Sessions has not done his job,
however wrong he is, President Trump could try to fire attorney general
Sessions and put someone else in there. He was thinking of putting Scott
Pruitt in there before Scott Pruitt was discovered in bed with a lobbyist,
taking payoffs from lobbyists. So, he may have to find someone else.

But bottom line is if he tries to fire Robert Mueller, he is going to
himself be guilty of yet more obstruction of justice, and so will anybody
who helps him do it. And I am concerned about a constitutional crisis
resulting from that. If the President does more than just tweet and talk
about this.

MELBER: And that`s something that senator Torricelli was referencing as
well on this broadcast.

I also want to read one more thing and then throw to these tapes so viewers
can see it for themselves. Certainly, unusual day for any President, even
this President with his tumultuous first term.

The pooler, which is you know, we have a pool group of reporter who go in
there and try to get what they can in the President. The pooler asked if
there were concerns about what the FBI would find, and I`m reading here.
The President says, no. There was a discussion of how Rosenstein himself
had written that letter critical of Comey. And it appears from my notes
that the President then cites the FISA warrant that Rosenstein signed and a
discussion of whether he will be removed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The office of one of my personal attorneys, good man, and it`s a
disgraceful situation. It`s a total witch hunt. I`ve been saying it for a
long time. I have wanted to keep it down. We`ve given over I believe over
a million pages worth of documents to the special counsel. They continue
to just go forward and here we are talking about Syria, we are talking
about a lot of serious things with the greatest fighting force ever and I
have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now. And
actually much more than that. You could say it was right after I won the
nomination, it started.

And it`s a disgrace. It`s frankly, a real disgrace. It`s an attack on our
country in a true sense. It`s an attack on what we all stand for. So when
I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did. I said, that is
really now in a whole new level of unfairness.

So this has been going on – I saw one of the reporters who is not
necessarily a fan of mine, not necessarily very good to me, he said, in
effect, that this is ridiculous. This is now getting ridiculous. They
found to collusion whatsoever with Russia. The reason they found it is
there was no collusion at all, no collusion. This is the most biased group
of people – these people have the biggest conflicts of interest I`ve ever
seen. Democrats all, or just about all, either Democrats or a couple of
Republicans that work for President Obama, they`re not looking at the other
side. They`re not looking at the Hillary Clinton horrible things that she
did and all of the crimes that were committed. They`re not looking at all
of the things that happened that everybody is very angry about. I can tell
you, from the Republican side and I think even the independent side. They
only keep looking at us. So they find no collusion and then they go from
there and they say, well, let`s keep going. And they raid an office of a
personal attorney early in the morning. And I think it`s a disgrace.

So we`ll be talking about it more. But this is the most conflicted group
of people I`ve ever seen. The Attorney General made a terrible mistake
when he did this and when he recused himself or he should have certainly
let us know if he was going to recuse himself and we would have used a –
put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a
very terrible mistake for the country. But you`ll figure that out. All I
can say is after looking for a long period of time, and even before the
special counsel, because it really started just about from the time I won
the nomination. And you look at what took place and what happened and it`s
a disgrace, it`s a disgrace. I`ve been President now for what seems like a
lengthy period of time. We`ve done a fantastic job. We`ve beaten ISIS.
We have just about 100 percent of the caliphate or the land. Our economy
is incredible. The stock market dropped a lot today, as soon as they heard
the noise of, you know, this nonsense that`s going on. It dropped a lot.
It was up, way up, and then it dropped quite a bit at the end, a lot. But
that we have to go through that, we`ve had that hanging over us now from
the very, very beginning. And yet the other side, they don`t even bother
looking.

And the other side is where there are crimes. And those crimes are
obvious. Lies under oath, all over the place, e-mails that are knocked
out, that are acid washed and deleted. Nobody has ever seen 33,000 e-mails
are deleted after getting a subpoena for Congress and nobody bothers
looking at that and many, many other things. So I just think it`s a
disgrace that a thing like this can happen with all of that being said, we
are here to discuss Syria tonight. We`re the greatest fighting force
anywhere in the world. These gentlemen and ladies are incredible people,
incredible talent, and we`re making a decision as to what we do with
respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus and it will be
met and it will be met forcefully. And when, I will not say, because I
don`t like talking about timing. But we are developing the greatest force
that we`ve ever had. We had $700 billion just to prove, which was the
reason I went along with that budget, because we had to fix our military.
General Mattis would tell you that above anybody. We had to fix our
military.

And right now, we`re in a big process of doing that, $700 million and then
$716 billion next year. So, we`re going to make a decision tonight or very
shortly thereafter and you`ll be hearing the decision. But we can`t let
atrocities like we all witnessed – and you can see that and it`s horrible,
we can`t let that happen in our world. We can`t let that happen.
Especially when we`re able to, because of the power of the United States,
because of the power of our country, we`re able to stop it. I want to
thank Ambassador John Bolton for joining us. I think he`s going to be a
fantastic representative of our team. He`s highly respected by everybody
in this room. And John, I want to thank you very much. This is going to
be a lot of work. Interesting day, he picked today as his first day. So
generals, I think he picked the right day. But certainly, you`re going to
find it very exciting, but you are going to do a fantastic job and I
appreciate you joining us.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Thank you, it`s an honor to be
here. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you all very much.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No I`m not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don`t you just fire Mueller?

TRUMP: Why don`t I just fire Mueller?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just fire the guy.

TRUMP: Well, I think it`s a disgrace what`s going on. We`ll see what
happens. But I think it`s really a sad situation when you look at what
happened. And many people have said, you should fire him. Again, they
found nothing and in finding nothing, that`s a big statement. If you know
the person who`s in charge of the investigation, you know about the Deputy
Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, he wrote the letter very critical of Comey.
One of the things I said, I fired Comey. Well, I turned out to do the
right thing because you look at all the things he`s done, and the lies, and
you look at what`s going on at the FBI with the insurance policy and all
the things that happened, it turned out I did the right thing. But he
signed – as you know, he also signed the FISA warrant. So Rod Rosenstein,
who`s in charge of this, signed a FISA warrant and he also, he also signed
a letter that was essentially saying to fire James Comey. And he was right
about that, he was absolutely right. So we`ll see what happens. I think
it`s disgraceful and so does a lot of other people. This is a pure and
simple witch hunt. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you all very much.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thanks, everyone. Thank you.

TRUMP: We are getting clarity on that, who was responsible for the weapons
attack. We are getting some very good clarity, actually. We have some
pretty good answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your options?

TRUMP: We have a lot of options, militarily and we`ll be letting you know
pretty soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone. Thank you all.

TRUMP: Probably after the fact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We have been listening to a remarkable war cabinet
briefing there as first time it`s aired on T.V, it wrapped moments ago. It
ended with Donald Trump`s unusual statement about Bob Mueller`s boss, Rod
Rosenstein, a discussion of the options on Syria. The President saying at
the end there, we`ll know after the fact, something many presidents say
about any potential military action. But he also spoke in very brash
terms, criticizing what he called a new level of unfairness as his personal
attorney found himself under an FBI raid and door knocked down today. I
want to bring in Washington Post Jennifer Rubin, who`s been reporting on
this story, Jim Messina, who`s a former White House Deputy Chief of Staff
in the Obama administration, as well as Max Boot, a former Adviser to Mitt
Romney and John McCain and former Federal Prosecutor, Paul Butler, who was
with me before all of this news broke, still with me for the federal
prosecutorial view. Jennifer, I start with you. As someone who has been
eyeing the Stormy Daniels case, not so much for what happened between miss
Daniels and Donald Trump, but for everything that happened afterward, I
wonder your view of both what the President just said, his apparent
criticism of Bob Mueller`s boss, as well as the raid, which he was
reportedly watching on television, the raid of his longtime personal
attorney, Michael Cohen today.

JENNIFER RUBIN, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it`s been a remarkable
few hours, hasn`t it? As far as the President goes, that was about as
incoherent and pugnacious as he has been in recent days. And the
implication that Rod Rosenstein did something wrong by signing off on that
FISA warning and that entire rant against the Justice Department should be
very disturbing. And this goes back to a point that I`ve made many times,
which is that Congress here is completely delinquent in not moving to
protect Mueller and Rosenstein and the rest of them. And if something does
happen and we find ourselves in a constitutional crisis, it will largely be
because of Congress. I also want to make one point about his insistence
that they have found no collusion. That is false. It`s a lie. In fact,
there have been 72 contacts by 22 different members of the Trump campaign
with Russian individuals. Now, have we found a smoking gun of Donald Trump
picking up the phone and calling Vladimir Putin? No, but we have a lot of
evidence.

We have indictments. We have people who are cooperating with the special
prosecutor. We are far away from exonerating Mr. Trump. And whenever he
says this, my mind goes to the other problem he has and that is obstruction
of justice. If not for all of this evidence that Mr. Mueller is
collecting, if not for all of the indictments, Donald Trump perhaps would
not be so concerned about getting rid of the special prosecutor. So why is
it that he`s so bothered if nothing`s there? Why did he fire Mr. Comey?
Why did he seek to smear Mr. Comey? Why did he seek to lean on the FBI to
exonerate and to lay off of Michael Flynn? This is all of a piece. And
what happens in these fascinating situations is Donald Trump becomes a
witness against himself. This is the typical admission against interest,
because every time he speaks in this way, he confirms, number one, he has a
guilty conscience, number two, he wants to interfere and stop the FBI.
Number three, he wanted Jeff Sessions to be his protector. None of that is
helpful and there, I am sure, will be Mueller and his team taking notes,
writing this all down, fitting the pieces of the puzzle into –

MELBER: Well, let me take that – let me take that to Max Boot because it
could be a guilty conscience or it could just be a strategic conscience,
that he knows that there are certain things that he has to hide. Blasting
Rod Rosenstein, Mueller`s boss at the end there was pretty fascinating,
given that Rosenstein is signing off on the raid of his – Trump`s personal
attorney today. It seems, Max, that Rod Rosenstein is now facing what
other law enforcement officials have faced, which is the evolution from
Donald Trump saying nice things when it suits him to pinning a lot on him.

MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it`s pretty
clear that Trump is trying to intimidate Sessions and Mueller – Sessions
and Rosenstein to reigning in Mueller and that`s what this diatribe is all
about. I mean, my initial reaction, frankly, watching this was it was so
unseemly on so many levels. My initial reaction was, wow. Bashar al-Assad
better watch out. There`s going to be a few extra airfields added to the
targeting list, because Trump is so perturbed, he`s going to take it out on
Assad probably in the next 24 hours, which is fine by me. But what was
really I thought truly outrageous about this diatribe that Trump went into
was this was ostensibly a national security meeting. This is with the
Joint Chiefs, this is with his so-called war cabinet, discussing the most
serious issues in the world, issues of war and peace and American military
action in Syria. And instead of all of that, he`s going to be a diatribe
against the Department of Justice, against the dedicated servants –

MELBER: Well, you`re – Max, you`re a former foreign policy adviser to
some pretty heavy hitters in the Republican Party. You`re making a point
that goes to the opposite of usually happened. There`s often a complaint
about wag the dog, using military to distract. This was the opposite. It
was the not the country being distracted focused in Syria, it was the
President being distracted. It was almost as if he couldn`t hold in a day
to gather the facts. He had to comment on the FBI raid of Cohen
immediately.

BOOT: Right. I mean, he has no sense of propriety. He has no sense that
these national security issues need to be decided above the level of
politics. And in fact, he`s surrounded by these Joint Chiefs, these
generals who have dedicated their lives to the service of the country. And
guess what? They are very similar to the kind of FBI agents and
prosecutors that Trump is now attacking. These are all a political civil
servants, dedicated to our country. And so I can`t imagine what these
generals are thinking, knowing how dedicated these FBI folks are, how
dedicated the Justice Department prosecutors are and Trump is trying to
throw them under the bus. And so what happens with the military if
something goes wrong? He`s going to throw the generals under the bus. He
has no sense of a way a President is supposed to act.

MELBER: What I want to do is play a little more of what the President
said, a short bite, regarding Jeff Sessions. Then we`re going to turn to
add a very special guest by phone, I believe, in the coming moments, a
lawyer who knows a lot about Michael Cohen. In fact, let me jump right to
it. Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels` lawyer joins me by phone. Michael,
you and I spoke on Thursday when the President made the odd statement on
Air Force One, ask Michael Cohen about all of this. Tonight, the breaking
news is the FBI appears to be doing that, breaking down his office door.
Your response?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER OF STORMY DANIELS: Well, you know, Ari, I think
this is a very, very serious development for Michael Cohen and a very
serious development for the President. There`s no doubt about it. You
know, even a stop clock is right twice a day and as I told you on Thursday,
I predicted the noose was tightening and I stated that Mr. Cohen was being
placed in the crosshairs. And to the extent that the amount of faith that
has been placed on him was uncalled for or in the event that he could not
withstand it, that very, very bad results could occur. And I think that
this is probably the first step in that process to a very serious matter –

MELBER: Michael, you`re – Michael, you`re making an interesting point.
You are, obviously, in the courtroom, an adversary of Mr. Cohen`s right
now, but you appear to be saying that his client, Donald Trump, may have
done him a disservice here?

AVENATTI: Well, I think that`s right. I mean, he placed him in the
crosshairs. I mean, if you really take a step back, Ari, and you think
about this, I mean, this is – it`s unbelievable. On Thursday, the
President basically said, talk to my lawyer, Michael Cohen, and less than
two business days later, the FBI raided that lawyer`s office. That is a
remarkable chain of events and, you know, I think, and I predicted this
last week, I think there is a strong likelihood that they`re going to be
able to pierce the attorney/client privilege based on a crime-fraud
exception here, possibly. And you know, they`re going to pull on this
string and I don`t know where it`s going to end, but it may not end at a
very good place.

MELBER: You`re referring to a very high bar for a prosecutor and the
judges oversee and we`ve discussed it earlier on the show tonight, Michael.
The fact that you can discuss almost anything with your lawyer in secret
and that will be protected in court, unless what you`re discussing is an
on-going or future crime. And so Mr. Avenatti makes that point. I want to
widen that out to our panel. Paul Butler, as I often emphasize, and we
interview participants who bring a great deal of primary knowledge, Paul,
the issue that he raises may be true and accurate, even though for him,
it`s in his interest to say this. Do you share that view that we were
discussing earlier that the key here is not that they grabbed the docs
because then they have to go through them, the key is, depending on what`s
in there, they might be able to get this secret info and use it?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. So you cannot use the
attorney/client privilege to evade your own criminality. We already know
there`s been a very high showing by the prosecutors to get this no-knock
warrant done at the President`s lawyer`s office. And in that press
conference, you just showed, we saw the President of the United States
becoming unhinged. As soon as this raid happened, his lawyer, whoever he
or she may be now, would have had to instruct him, don`t talk.

MELBER: Do you think he was – your word was “unhinged.” Do you think
what we`re seeing there, him in the war cabinet, supposed to be talking
about Syria, went on and on about this, do you think you see Donald Trump
as a client who is nervous about what Michael Cohen knows or what`s in his
office?

BUTLER: Yes, I saw the President of the United States running scared and
therefore laying the predicate with his political base to try to get rid of
Mueller. And to do that, he would have to get rid of Rosenstein.

MELBER: And so that goes to the Sessions/Rosenstein matrix. Back to Jim
Messina. Jim, sometimes you get delayed by lawyers. They call in, they
talk a lot, we appreciate you being a good-natured and patient guest. I`m
going to play for you what I promised earlier. Take a listen to the Jeff
Sessions point to moments ago Donald Trump bringing up yet again the famed
Russia recusal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They find no collusion and then they go from there and they say,
well, let`s keep going. And they raid an office of a personal attorney
early in the morning. And I think it`s a disgrace. So we`ll be talking
about it more. But this is the most conflicted group of people I`ve ever
seen. The Attorney General made a terrible mistake when he did this and
when he recused himself or he should have certainly let him know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You work for President Obama. Would he have made a statement like
that about the attorney general and is it appropriate?

JIM MESSINA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Never. And it`s
absolutely not appropriate. And I want to take on something else the
President said. He talked about the Democratic bias of these people. And
let`s just be really clear, because this is an important point. Bob
Mueller is a Republican. He called Rod Rosenstein a Trump Republican
appointee, made this recommendation. They decided to kick it to the
Southern District of New York, which is run by a Republican Trump
appointee, who went to a federal judge and got a very big legal ruling here
that they could kick down the door of President Trump`s personal attorney.
There`s no Democrats we`ve been talking about here. These are all
Republicans who are finally beginning to act in the interest of this
country. And meanwhile, you have Trump giving this unbelievable press
conference, you know, talking about this attack on him. And I think he is
rattled. And here`s the question. What else are they going to find in
Cohen`s office? They`ve seized all those records. And if there`s – you
know, we`ve always thought about Cohen is he has more skeletons in his
closet than a grateful dead concert. We`re about to find out.

MELBER: Wow, a big grateful dead reference there for another touch of
gray, I turn back to Michael Avenatti by phone. We had lost the connection
briefly. Michael, the panel was just discussing whether or not Donald
Trump looks rattled and whether he appears nervous given what he knows
Michael Cohen knows. My question for you is while this raises obviously
heat and criminal pressure on Michael Cohen, your adversary in the civil
case, it doesn`t in and of itself make your victory for Stormy Daniels more
likely. Indeed, it would appear to be a separate case or do you disagree?

AVENATTI: Well, I may disagree because I think the likelihood of Michael
Cohen doing what they call taking five, which is pleading the Fifth
Amendment in the event that we are successful in our efforts to get an
order allowing his deposition just went up exponentially. And of course in
federal court –

MELBER: Let`s pause on that. Let`s just pause on that so we can break it
out. You are saying that although this is a separate matter involving
federal prosecutors, if it continues against Michael Cohen, and he invokes
his Fifth Amendment right not to testify against himself there, you`re
saying that will then affect a lot of the overlapping issues in your Stormy
Daniels NDA case?

AVENATTI: Well, I think there is no question about that. And because
we`re in a civil matter in federal court, there can be what`s called a
negative inference, which means that the court or the jury can draw a
negative inference or negative belief as a result of a witness pleading the
Fifth Amendment when asked questions under oath. So I think it could have
a dramatic impact on our case.

MELBER: And Michael, the negative inference here in your case, if this
goes forward against Cohen, Trump`s personal lawyer who had his office
raided by the FBI today, the inference being that Cohen is a liar, is
guilty, or that there is no NDA?

AVENATTI: Well, I think the – it could be all of the above, quite
honestly, Ari. It could – it could be that be he is not being honest, it
could be that there is no NDA, it could be that he engaged in campaign
finance violations with the knowledge and assistance conspired with the
President. It could be a whole host of things depending on the questions
and depending on which questions he invokes the Fifth Amendment on. I
think it`s very likely that he`s going to – that he would take Five in
connection with a civil deposition at this point and lie to the FBI earlier
today. But I want to comment on something that one of the panelists
mentioned moments ago when discussing what the President had said about the
FBI and how conflicted they are, et cetera. You know, Ari, where I come
from if there is a federal investigation into people that are around you or
close to you, the last thing you want to be doing is upsetting them or
taking shots at them publicly. That`s not very smart. I don`t care what
your position is. I don`t care how strong you think you are or how
arrogant you are, that`s not smart, period.

MELBER: When I last spoke to you on this program Thursday night, you made
a bit of news with your reaction to the President`s news on Air Force One.
You also described yourself that night in a legal capacity as elated
because of the heat that the President put on Michael Cohen. You said on
Thursday night he threw him under the bus. There`s a lot of public
evidence that`s true. Was Thursday a better day for your case or is
tonight an even better day?

AVENATTI: Well, Ari, that`s tough to say. I mean, let me – let me say
this. I take criminal investigations and criminal charges very, very
seriously. And they can have dramatic impacts on people in their lives and
their families, et cetera. And you know, if Michael Cohen has put himself
in this position or if the President has put him in this position, you
know, part of me feels sorry for him, quite frankly. A lot of people will
be surprised to hear me say that, but it`s true.

MELBER: You feel sorry – you feel sorry for Michael Cohen? Why, Michael?

AVENATTI: Well, part of me just because of the seriousness of this matter.
You know, this guy I think has been put in a position where he is going to
be – he is going to be expected to be the fall guy, the scapegoat. I
don`t think he is going to hold up. In my experience, any guy that has to
constantly tell you how tough he is really isn`t that tough. And this is a
guy that has consistently made it a point to refer to himself as Ray
Donovan and the (INAUDIBLE) and the tough guy. And I think when push comes
to shove, he`s going to fold like a cheap deck of cards, Ari. I really do.
But you know, with that said, I don`t – I`m not applauding or high-fiving
anybody`s offices being raided by the FBI. It`s very, very serious matter
and I think that this is the first significant domino to fall. And I think
that history is going to look back upon this day and this is going to be a
monumental day when the President on a Thursday refers everyone to his
personal attorney, and Monday, that attorney`s offices are raid by the FBI.
That`s pretty remarkable. The next big moment will probably be when he
takes the Fifth Amendment.

MELBER: And before I let you go, your statement about him taking the Fifth
Amendment is based on your experience in legal practice that that would be
a safe route for him or your knowledge of something about this case?

AVENATTI: Well, I`m going say that it`s both. I think that any attorney
that would represent him in a civil deposition relating to the NDA, the
payment on the $130,000, et cetera, I think it would be legal malpractice
to allow him to testify and not take the Fifth Amendment, quite honestly.
I would fully expect that. I think that an attorney that would allow him
to answer those questions without that advice would be absolutely out of
their mind.

MELBER: Before I let you go, is there anything else you wanted to convey
on this very unusual legal evening?

AVENATTI: No. I mean, not at this time. It`s a great dynamic case, Ari
and you know, who would have imagined after my comments on Thursday that we
would only have to wait two business days to see a number of those comments
come to fruition. That`s not that I`m particularly smart, I think perhaps
I`m just lucky.

MELBER: Perhaps you`re lucky, perhaps your case has been boosted by
events. Some of which I think it`s fair to say you and your client have
engineered. Some of which we have observed to have happen completely
unpredictable, certainly the Air Force One comments. Mr. Avenatti, I want
to thank you for your time tonight, and I appreciate the points you raise,
that there is a humanity to all this when real people are caught up in a
criminal probe as well as a constitutional dimension when we think about
what the President just said. Michael Avenatti joining us for his first
response to that news on THE BEAT. I want to bring in a new voice to our
panel who`s been also very patient which I appreciate, Cheri Jacobus, who`s
worked as a Republican Strategist who`s a friend of THE BEAT. Cheri, when
you look at all this starting with Stormy Daniels, someone many people
noted was maligned, was perhaps underestimated, but has proven (INAUDIBLE)
in multiple ways. We`ve just heard from her lawyer. Walk us through the
Stormy Daniels origin of all this.

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, this is somebody that I
think you know, the President and Michael Cohen thought that they could
just walk all over. They never thought it would be a big deal. But now
the American people, according to polls believe her more than they believe
him. So you know, never put anybody in position where they`ve got nothing
left to lose because they will fight back and it looks like she is winning.
Ari, I want to make one point. We`re talking about Michael Cohen in terms
of being the personal lawyer of the President. Michael Cohen is also the
Deputy National Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee. And
I haven`t heard anybody really explore that. I don`t think we`ll be –
we`ll know over the course of the day and weeks of the full reverberations
of that but that is a huge albatross around the necks of Republicans
running for reelection and other candidates out there.

MELBER: Do you think that`s something the RNC should reconsider? Is that
what you`re saying?

JACOBUS: At the very least. But look, we`ve seen a lot of the Republicans
in Congress and leadership sit back and kind of hide from the many
controversies of the President And they act like it`s none of their
business that it`s separate from them. This is not separate. This is
somebody who is in a major position with the RNC, with their finances.
They can`t keep running away from this. They are accountable. And as
these Republican members of Congress and other candidates get past their
primaries and have to appeal to somebody other than Trump`s core
supporters, they`re going have to answer to this. I just don`t see how
they can continue to act like this is no big deal and support the President
with his rhetoric.

MELBER: That`s – and let me – and that`s some of the politics. I want
to go back to the leadership, to you, Jim Messina, having served President
Obama, and been in that room that so few of us have been in today. We
speak against the backdrop of chemical attacks in Syria and the generals
gathered to deal with that. We speak against the backdrop of the
independence of the FBI, the DOJ, and those institutions. Your view of the
leadership test that Donald Trump is facing tonight and how he`s doing?

MESSINA: Oh, he`s absolutely failing it. I mean, you just don`t do what
he did today. You have a really big crisis in Syria. You have the joint
chiefs sitting around you. You`ve got to make a decision. You this
availability, the one thing any other of the 44 presidents of the United
States before this guy would have done is stick to message, talk about
Syria, talk about the choices in front of us, and not go on a 15-minute
rant in which he picked a fight with a bunch of people who have subpoena
power over him and his people. It`s absolutely the craziest thing ever
done, and no normal president that all of us on this panel used to work
for, Republican or Democrat, would do it. And I think he`s failing this
leadership test in front of the whole – the whole nation.

MELBER: I want to thank each of our experts tonight, some of whom got less
time than they normally would because we had so much breaking news. Jim,
Jennifer, Paul, Max, and Cheri, thank you to each of you.

JACOBUS: Thank you.

MELBER: That is the end of our formal programming, this show. I do have
one more news alert that came in within the last five minutes. U.S.
Senator Chuck Schumer with a new statement saying the President must not
use this raid of his lawyer to try to remove Special Counsel Mueller. I am
sure there is a lot more news coming in because this has been quite the
hour. And thus you should probably keep it locked right here on MSNBC
because “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Raid. Let`s play HARDBALL.

END

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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