Trump DOJ indicts WikiLeaks Founder Assange. TRANSCRIPT: 4/11/19, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Tony Schwartz, Jay Inslee, Andy Greenberg, David Hickton, Jesselyn Radack, Juanita Tolliver

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That`s all we have for tonight.  We`ll be back

tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.


“THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER” starts right now.  Good evening, Ari.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening to you, Chuck.


We have a huge show tonight.  WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange indicted by

the Trump Justice Department for hacking conspiracy, raising questions

ranging from what does he know about Russian meddling to what is is

endangered freedom of information.


Also, Governor Jay Inslee, presidential candidate is here on THE BEAT

tonight in person.  And later, progressives rallying around Pelosi power as

she takes on the attorney general.


But we begin tonight with breaking news.  The Mueller probe ended but

today, the feds indicting a lawyer for lying to the Mueller probe about his

work with Paul Manafort.  As I mentioned, this Mueller probe has ended. 

You may have heard about that but this news breaking right now shows the

feds are not done indicting people who allegedly lied to Mueller.


This that I`m holding here is the first Mueller related indictment since

this probe finished and this is striking for several reasons.  Let me

explain.  First, this new indictment of prominent Democratic lawyer Greg

Craig touches on several of the biggest issues that Mueller was

investigating, like Paul Manafort`s illegal foreign activities.


Second, this shows that while Mueller did not indict an election

conspiracy, something we`ve been careful to report, he`s obviously

uncovered a range of activities that remain under investigation in several

prosecution offices.  There`s SDNY that we hear so much about.  And then

today, there`s D.C. charging this case.


Third, while President Trump has loudly and falsely claimed that the

Mueller probe was some sort of solely partisan pursuit of Republicans, this

is a charge against former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig.  The

charges that he lied to Mueller about a multimillion-dollar project that he

was doing for guilty former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort.


Indictment charging Craig with basically concealing information about their

work on this report about something that happened in Ukraine and then lying

about it, making false statements on more than one occasion including to

Mueller in October 2017 during, as you`ll see here, an interview conducted

by Mueller`s office, Craig allegedly repeating false and misleading

statements he made to their foreign lobbying unit.


One of the alleged crimes here is lying to Mueller`s office while it was

open.  And this is the first time since Mueller`s probe has ended that

we`ve seen a new indictment with a crime that was committed during the

special counsel`s ongoing investigation.


Now, Mr. Craig`s attorneys who were expecting this indictment as recently

as last night put out this statement.  They say he is not guilty of any

charge.  Now, these charges may be the first against a high profile

Democrat in the Mueller probe spinoff but it is also the latest in a series

of events that what Mueller found is still active in very real ways,

legally and obviously substantively.


Not just in Washington.  The Southern District of New York has been going

strong where Trump`s links to the “National Enquirer” have been probed and

put under a microscope, the tabloid accused among other things, of

extortion by one of the richest man in the world, Amazon CEO and Trump

critic Jeff Bezos.


Now, I can tell you in addition to everything else, that company is putting

up the tabloid for sale.  And the CEO and a long-time friend of Trump`s,

David Pecker, has been cooperating with SDNY.  “The New York Times”

reporting Bezos will meet with SDNY prosecutors who may be interested in

Bezos`s accusations against Pecker.  This meeting is happening as early as

this week.


Now, as for the politics, we have experts who are reacting to all of this,

including this charge against Greg Craig, the former Obama White House

Counsel saying it is another sign that Bob Mueller`s probe, while it was

active and now as it has farmed out what it found, doesn`t care about

politics or parties.


So Donald Trump can continue to talk about a coup or a witch hunt or angry

Democrats.  The truth according to these experts and what we`re seeing in

these filings is they`re following the facts wherever they lead.


I am joined now by former counsel to the New York City Mayor and a former

civil prosecutor with SDNY Maya Wiley, as well as the co-author of “The Art

of the Deal”, Tony Schwartz.  He`s the author of “The Way We`re Working

Isn`t Working” and has insights into how Donald Trump will be viewing a lot

of these developments right now.


What do you make of this indictment?



bed with the devil, you might get burned.


MELBER:  Is guilty Paul Manafort the devil in this?


WILEY:  Paul Manafort and Yanukovych.  I mean we`re talking about a law

firm, that at least as the indictment reads, was engaged in helping the

P.R. prospects of government that Paul Manafort was willing to help try to

reform their reputation in secret without telling the American people, hey,

here I am representing this government.


MELBER:  And these laws, to your point, all they say is, if you are working

for a foreign government, just tell the country and then you can go on and

do it.


WILEY:  That`s right.


MELBER:  This was millions of dollars, coming from the offshore bank

accounts that Paul Manafort was running for these folks who are all Putin



WILEY:  That`s right.  And one of the things that was happening here in

what (0:00:12) and Gregory Craig was hired to do, was run a review of an

investigation that the Yanukovych Ministry of Justice had brought against

his political opponent.


And some of the exchanges that are mentioned in the indictment are about

how the report would play out in public.  In other words, it appears to be

public relations.  And remember, that at the time this happened, the human

rights community was up in arms about the report.


Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was saying, this doesn`t make sense. 

This is a bad prosecution.  And so there are a lot of questions in here

that I think make it clear that this is a law firm that, remember Van Der

Zwan, who worked on this report pled guilty to lying about what they were

doing with the report.


And the firm itself paid a fine and said in retrospect we should have

registered as an agent for foreign government.  So that`s what`s going on



MELBER:  Yes, it is a significant development in Trump`s world as he

continues to try to say, “Well, Mueller is done.  I was exonerated.  No one

needs to worry about the report.”  Given your knowledge of him, take a

look, Tony, at the president on all of this just yesterday.





This was an attempt to take down a president.  And we beat them.  We beat





TONY SCHWARTZ:  Well, if I say it`s true, if you say it, it`s false, I mean

that`s Trump.  Whether it`s true or false, he`s going to take the position

that – including when it is completely representative of his own worst

behaviors, he`s going to go, he`s going to attack people for those same

behaviors and he`s going to constantly declare victory in the face of



You know, you saw him back away with Assange today from having talked about

how wonderful WikiLeaks was 160 times in the last 10, 15 days of the

campaign.  Today, he doesn`t remember who Julian Assange is.


You know, when he talks about an attempted coup, I think that`s where he`s

at.  I mean he`s in a White House in which he is completely unbounded. 

Nobody there to put any kind of hand in his face around what he does.


And I think his goal is to bring down the truth, lower the bar on what we

think is true or false, so low that we cease to notice the difference

between what`s true and false.


MELBER:  This also comes at a time where America continues to be tested

about what these principles mean.  What does it mean whether we`re going to

see what Mueller found or not?  What does it mean whether the Congress will

do oversight or not?


And what does it mean tonight, Tony, where the president may have his

approach to law and order?  But what does it mean for everyone else? 

You`ve talked at this table before about leadership.


I want to read to you a Democratic congressman responding to this, who says

with regard to Obama`s White House counsel being now indicted.  “Ted Lieu. 

No one is above the law.  Not Greg Craig”, who`s Obama official, “Not

Michael Cohen, not Michael Flynn, no one.  Lying to federal investigators

is a big deal and strikes at the core of our ability to investigate



How important do you think it is for our – if I can be so bold, civic and

political culture to process this information on a nonpartisan basis?


SCHWARTZ:  Well, I mean it is the self-evident that it would make every

kind of sense to look at it as recognizing the greed and deceit gave no

ideological bounds.  It goes right across greed and deceit and overwhelm



And Trump has created a world in which grifting, not actually sure that`s a

word, but being a grifter is an acceptable, actually even an honorable

profession in these days.  And so the risk – and you could talk about this

more in a more articulate way than I can, Maya.


But the risk to the law right now when you have somebody assaulting it from

every side every day.  I don`t think it`s ever been as great as it is.


And then you watch William Barr be willing to play, clearly a partisan –

take a partisan perspective during this period, it is scary.  It`s scary

and this is what Trump does to people.  He brings them down to his



WILEY:  It would be nice to have a president who has read the Constitution. 

That`s my view.


SCHWARTZ:  Well, we don`t even have a president who has read Babe Ruth`s



WILEY:  Right.  Well, so –


SCHWARTZ:  Much less the Constitution.


WILEY:  I`m hope – one of the things that has kind of become clear in this

– when Donald Trump says this whole point about witch hunt or any of the

kind of tropes that he uses to confuse us about our values, one thing that

is problematic is that too many people are cynical about whether anyone

tells the truth.


SCHWARTZ:  Exactly.


WILEY:  And I think that serves unfortunately the kind of sound bites of

Donald Trump.  And that`s why the rule of law and its neutral application

is so important, right.  Because part of what it says is our institutions

of government are about protecting the rules, the boundaries.


And if there is one good thing to come out of this, it is that the statute

that is about transparency and about making clear to the American people

what they`re hearing and where it`s coming from is now being enforced, when

it actually has a very long history on the books and was not being



MELBER:  Right.  And that`s where, to put it really all together, you`re

talking about the corrosive elements of what happens if someone is seen as

succeeding and getting away with it and the risk of that which is far

broader than partisan boundaries, what you call the grifting.


And you`re talking about what cuts against that which is someone like

Mueller who happens to be life-long Republican saying, no, the rules and

the facts matter and I`m going to do the job as honorably as lawfully as

possible and let the chips fall where they may, which is why this is such a

big story.


My special thanks to Maya Wiley and Tony Schwartz for leading off our



I will tell you we have a busy show because coming up, what would have been

the top story no matter what, any other day of the week, Julian Assange

indicted.  And you`re watching new footage of him being removed from the

Embassy in London.  We have that story.


Donald Trump also withdrawing everything he seemed to ever claim about





TRUMP:  We love WikiLeaks.  Boy, they are good.  WikiLeaks.


I know nothing about WikiLeaks.  It is not my thing.




MELBER:  And later, liberals cheering.  Speaker Pelosi`s moves against the

Trump agenda.  And if that wasn`t enough, Governor Jay Inslee.  You`re

looking at a live shot of him here at 30 Rock leading on climate change. 

That`s what he says he wants to talk about.  We`ll get to that and a whole

lot more in my live interview coming up next.


I`m Ari Melber.  You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.




MELBER:  Here we go.  I am joined live by presidential candidate and

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.  Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.





MELBER:  It`s great to have you.  Your first time here in person.




MELBER:  Let`s get right to it.  You have been advocating climate change as

important to resolve for the United States of America and really crucially,

your candidacy.




MELBER:  Let me show you something that might be politically bad news for

you.  Let`s start right there. I don`t think this is a surprise.  But this

is people`s priorities, According to the polling.  You`re not top 5, you`re

not top 10.  You`re 17.  Do you have to move that number up in voters`

minds for your candidacy to succeed?


INSLEE:  Actually not because if you look at that poll, if you look at the

top things that are on there, I think number one was the economy.  Number

two was health care.


MELBER:  Yes, you`re right.


INSLEE:  Number four is terrorism.  So those are things that are associated

and exacerbated by climate change.  And our only task is to get people to

really think about it in those terms.


Look, it`s an economic issue.  I`m going to Iowa tomorrow to look at the

floods where we`ve had billions of dollars of damage to our economy,

astronomical losses throughout the Midwest.


I`ve gone seen whole towns burned down in Paradise, California.  The

expense and damage being done to our economy by climate change is something

that is increasing dramatically.


MELBER:  So what do you say to voters who, when they hear green climate

change candidacy, they think sacrificing economic prosperity?


INSLEE:  No, what they can think and they should think is the enormous

growth in job creation and that`s what we`re talking about.  So when I go

and talk to communities, I talk about the wind turbines in Iowa.


Look, Trump says wind turbines cause cancer.  He`s wrong.  They don`t cause

cancer.  They cause jobs.  We talked about – I argued with Meghan McCain

on the view about this.


MELBER:  You know I don`t think you knew this, Governor, but you are

mentioning something that we`re prepared to get into.  Let`s look at

President Trump as you say on that very issue.




TRUMP:  If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations,

your house just went down 75 percent in value.  And they stay noise causes

cancer.  You tell me that one.  OK?




INSLEE:  Well, listen, I don`t agree with Senator Grassley a lot but he

called that comment idiotic.  And the reason is because you`re seeing wind

turbines building a whole new industry.


Look, we created a $6 billion industry, the wind industry in our state, in

part because we adopted a renewable portfolio standard that I helped folks

pass at the ballot box.  We understand job creation.  We understand people

criticize Democrats saying we`re going to trains and planes and cars.


MELBER:  Or ice cream.


INSLEE:  Or ice cream.  But look, at the very moment I was debating that,

we`ve got a General Motors, all electric bolt, shiny new blue spiffy card

made by American workers in Orion, Michigan.  That`s a vision of a destiny

of America, to be the real test bed and building, manufacturing center for

the world to build these products.


We`re doing biofuels in Grays Harbor, Washington.  We`re doing batteries

like crazy in Nevada.  We`re making – we`re spinning carbon fiber in Moses

Lake, Washington, a small community as you know, East of Washington or



And the interesting thing about this is this economic development vision is

good for smaller towns, rural areas, rather than just urban ones, you know,

from Washington State.  These jobs are not just in Seattle.  They`re in

Moses Lake.  They`re in Lind, Washington in the town of 350.


MELBER:  Let me – you mentioned the chart.  Let me get you on health care

as well.  I`m old enough to remember when a lot of people thought of you as

a progressive Democrat within the party.


But time has gone on.  You`ve ascended to be governor.  When we put up the

list of candidates here who say they`re basically for Medicare for All, it

is a lot of the candidates, including a lot of the ones who have amassed a

lot of support.  Are you to the right of them on that?  Are you not for

Medicare for All at this point?


INSLEE:  I think I`m just in the right place which is to follow what we`ve

done in Washington State.  As you know, we may be and I hope to be shortly,

the very first state to have a public option that is available people

through a public system.


MELBER:  Sure.


INSLEE:  And I`m proud of the progress we`ve made.


MELBER:  And I`m going to press you on that.  A lot of people think that

works.  That was basically, I think, similar to where a lot of the Obama

supporters wanted to go.


INSLEE:  Right.


MELBER:  But Medicare for All is a bigger, more robust, but more expensive

program.  Walk us through why you`re not for that.


INSLEE:  Well, what I`m for is for Medicare for those who want it.  And I

think that`s the right approach.  We know we need universal care.  We know

we need everyone to have access to health care.


And I believe the successful way to get there in the next administration is

to provide a universal access for those who want access to Medicare.  That

means allowing people to go into the Medicare system on a volitional basis,

to reduce the age where you in a sense automatically you`re on Medicare. 

And I believe that would be the most successful way to advance to a

Medicare system.


And the reason I believe that is I think you are going to have a lot of

people who are going to want to keep the health care that they have.  And

we have millions of people who are satisfied with their health care right

now.  And I believe we`re going to succeed.  Look, I`m a governor –


MELBER:  Let me get you on one other issue.




MELBER:  Not that I don`t want to hear the rest of that –


INSLEE:  Go ahead.


MELBER:  – but with the time I have.  Senator Booker, your competitor was

here.  And he talked a lot about how we`ve gotten criminal justice wrong





MELBER:  You voted for the 1994 Crime Bill.  Would you vote for that same

bill today?  What do we need to do on those issues, particularly racial



INSLEE:  No.  If I knew then what I know now, that that bill has resulted

in some racial disparities, that`s why I have been so intent and successful

as a governor helping to reform our criminal justice system.  We know that

death penalty has been racially disparate.  We`ve eliminated the death

penalty under my leadership.  I put a moratorium on it.


We know that drug wars have been part of the racial disparity that we`ve

suffered.  So we`ve legalized marijuana and I`m the first governor to offer

pardons to thousands of people who have had marijuana convictions to help

them get jobs so that this is not a problem.


MELBER:  Right.  You can get marijuana just about anywhere in Washington

State.  Let me ask you if you`ll play lightning round with us.  Other

candidates have.


INSLEE:  You bet.


MELBER:  Let`s start with, one word ideally, one sentence if you need it. 

When you go into a Washington State marijuana dispensary, you feel how?


INSLEE:  Like I`m a governor of a very progressive, effective state.


MELBER:  Your favorite –


INSLEE:  We have the best marijuana in America.


MELBER:  The best marijuana in America.


INSLEE:  No question.  At least I`ve been told.  I`m not –


MELBER:  You`ve been told that?


INSLEE:  I`m not –


MELBER:  And you trust your constituents?


INSLEE:  I trust my constituents as being very objective on this issue.


MELBER:  Favorite Starbucks drink.


INSLEE:  The Howard Schultz should not run for president latte.


MELBER:  Favorite music, band or artist from Washington State or Seattle.


INSLEE:  Well, you have to go with Jimi in Purple Haze.  And this is the

50th reunion of Woodstock and that is still vibrating in my mind of him

playing the star-spangled banner in Woodstock.


MELBER:  You know I was lucky enough to go to Jimi Hendrix`s High School,

Garfield High School and –


INSLEE:  Yes.  This is why you`re so talented.


MELBER:  If 6 were 9 –


INSLEE:  My dad taught there actually.


MELBER:  I didn`t know that.


INSLEE:  He`s a Garfield biology teacher.


MELBER:  Biology?




MELBER:  No kidding?  A couple more one word or sentence.  Bernie Sanders.


INSLEE:  Bernie in his day was a pretty good basketball player and I admire

him for that.


MELBER:  Donald Trump.


INSLEE:  A blip in history and we`re going to make sure that happens.


MELBER:  Iowa.


INSLEE:  Where I`m going tomorrow to look at the flood damage.  And I will

be in a state where Mike Pence is there.  I will be arguing that we need to

defeat climate change so these floods do not overwhelm us.


MELBER:  Bob Mueller.


INSLEE:  He will be there doing nothing.  I don`t know how the man sleeps

at night doing nothing about climate change.


MELBER:  Bob Mueller.


INSLEE:  He`s been doing some great work.


MELBER:  Bill Barr.


INSLEE:  That remains to be seen but I`m disturbed and worried about the

approach he`s taking, that it will be more partisan than justice.


MELBER:  Former Obama Counsel Greg Craig who was indicted today out of the

Mueller probe.


INSLEE:  Yes.  I don`t know about the situation so you`re going to have to

ask somebody else about that one.


MELBER:  And lastly, it is National Pet Day.  Would you bring a pet to the

White House if you won?


INSLEE:  I would bring everybody`s pet to the White House in spirit.  They

will all be in the White House when I`m president of the United States.


MELBER:  But are you a dog or a cat person or no pets?


INSLEE:  We don`t have pets right now because I can`t have a dog.  It`s the

strangest thing.


MELBER:  Who would walk the dog while you`re –


INSLEE:  No, not the problem.  But it is the strangest thing.  There –in

my lease, at the official residence, it says no pets.


MELBER:  You`re serious?


INSLEE:  So I just have to watch them on television.


MELBER:  Well, maybe you`re –


INSLEE:  I just watch cat videos on the Internet.


MELBER:  Governor, maybe you`re drawing attention to the fact that you

follow the rules even when you`re in charge.  You`re following the no pet



INSLEE:  This is true.


MELBER:  I appreciate you talking policy with us and some of the fun stuff. 

And I hope you come back on THE BEAT.


INSLEE:  Thanks, Ari.


MELBER:  Governor Jay Inslee right here right now.


Up ahead, we have a lot more including Speaker Pelosi showing how she says

Democrats have to continue to take on Bill Barr.  And the U.S. government

indicted Julian Assange, a very important story when we come back in 30





MELBER:  Now we turn to a major developing story today with implications

for American politics, and journalism, and international affairs.  This is

huge regardless of how you may feel about the man at the center of it,

WikiLeaks` founder Julian Assange, arrested and handcuffed this morning,

led out of the Ecuador Embassy in London in response to a new indictment by

the Trump Justice Department.  This is part of their new extradition



Now, Assange is controversial for many reasons from the way WikiLeaks

operates to some of the allies it has earned, leakers to indicted Putin

operatives, to candidate Trump, to indict Former Trump Adviser Roger Stone,

to other serious allegations against Assange like sexual misconduct in



So there are all kind of valid reasons to critique Assange and WikiLeaks. 

But the news tonight isn`t really about criticism or Assange`s role in

American politics.


The news is the U.S. government`s indicting a publisher of information on a

single charge that does not involve him actually stealing information but

rather a charge about this publisher communicating with the person who

stole the information and then allegedly trying to help the person in a

plan that did not allegedly steal information.


Now, I just said that all to you very carefully, which I try to do here. 

If that description sounds a little broad, or a little vague, or a little

tenuous, that`s because the new charge from the Trump Justice Department

does sound that way.


And this means that if Assange did go farther than most journalist would,

if the Trump administration can set up a precedent of indicting and jailing

publishers, the press, for information they publish in a situation where

the publisher did not allegedly steal anything themselves but mostly talked

to the people who did, well, I`m telling you tonight that precedent might

later be used against other publishers who maybe did less.


Because that`s how precedents work.  Historically, when government wants to

jail journalists, they don`t start with the most popular ones.  They start

often with the most reviled.  The ones that are the easiest to make some

sort of example of.


Now, this indictment of Assange isn`t about 2016 or Anything recent.  It is

a single charge of conspiracy to hack in 2010.  Now, it`s not a charge of

hacking because prosecutors aren`t alleging right now that the hack



But this conduct happened in 2010.  That brings us to another question, why

wasn`t it charged then?  You may know prosecutors have probed WikiLeaks for

quite some time.  During the Obama administration, prosecutors convicted

Chelsea Manning for stealing and leaking hundreds of thousands of

classified documents from the U.S. government which exposed all kinds of

activities by the U.S. as well as other countries.


And those were considered very news worthy leaks.  They were covered, of

course, by a wide range of media here and abroad, including this network,

and they sparked some major impacts on global affairs.




BRIAN WILLIAMS, HOST, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS:  Ninety-one thousand documents have

been released on the Internet by the whistleblower website,,

and they have more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Some analysts comparing them to the Pentagon Papers.


LESTER HOLT, HOST, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS:  Tonight, after violent protests that

have lasted for weeks, the Tunisian government has fallen.  The president

has fled and some are calling this The First WikiLeaks Revolution.




MELBER:  The First WikiLeaks Revolution.  Now, impactful journalism is

obviously not a defense to other alleged crimes but it was leaks like that

which won WikiLeaks the organization a range of journalistic awards.  The

Obama administration`s DOJ never indicted WikiLeaks publicly despite its

opposition to how they ran.


And it reviewed what appeared to be similar conduct regarding this 2010

issue because they indicted, as I mentioned, Chelsea Manning And they

reviewed a case against Assange and concluded it was not warranted.


Now, as for the person who gave the information to WikiLeaks, President

Obama ultimately commuted her sentence, saying she took responsibility for

what was criminal leaking and she shouldn`t spend too much time in jail.





Chelsea Manning, I looked at the particulars of this case, I felt that in

light of all the circumstances, that commuting her sentence was entirely

appropriate.  She took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that

she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had





MELBER: Why am I telling you all this right now?  Because there is a lot of

context like a lot for the Trump DOJ going forward here on these actions

from nine years ago that the Obama DOJ did not deem chargeable.  The case

against Assange could get stronger, there could be other counts based on

other secret evidence we don`t have tonight, and we know Bob Mueller wanted

a lot more from massage as do the feds on many, many topics.


But working with what we have now, the indictment unsealed today doesn`t

show Assange actually stealing anything or coordinating with foreign spies

or doing espionage.  It`s a single count of conspiring to do something that

allegedly did not happen which makes the indictment an aggressive and

potentially chilling document for journalists in the U.S. or abroad.


It shows this leaker Manning telling Assange after this upload that`s all I

really have got left.  And then Assange pushes for more leaks saying

curious eyes never run dry in my experience, the kind of communication that

some reporters have with sources.  And then it alleges Assange crossed a

line that reporters are not supposed to cross offering help with

potentially stealing itself to try to crack a password.  No, it doesn`t

allege at least in what we got today that it they succeeded.


Now that sounds bad and that single bad part I want you to know is also the

whole case.  The allegations section of this indictment runs two and a half

pages, the whole thing, the entire charges are six pages.  It would be easy

to view this case only through the U.S. government lens.  And if you hear

government officials from many parties, that`s what you`ll hear.


Assange took on the U.S. government, published leaks that undercut it. 

They don`t like that.  They have every right to voice their opposition to

that.  You can also view this only from the mystery lens and say man,

Julian Assange upended the 2016 election, what does he know about Putin and

collusion and things that even the Mueller report may not answer.  Let`s

get him here and interview him.


But there`s also tonight a nonpartisan lens of freedom of information. 

What check should exist on the Trump administration charging an extraditing

a publisher not for stealing or espionage but for one conspiracy count

about how he tried to help a source and whether that crossed a line.


That lends I think is part of why the Obama Justice Department was careful,

a point that I actually recently discussed with Eric Holder, this was last

month which we now know is a time period when Assange had been indicted

under seal but that information was not public.




MELBER:  Now there is an open case that appears to be looking at WikiLeaks

for charges.  Should a publisher like that be open to charges by the U.S.




you are acting in a pure journalistic sense, no.  I mean, you know, I

deplore leaks.  We brought cases against people who were leakers.  Members

of the press receive those leaks and then write stories about them.  If on

the other hand you`re acting at the behest of a foreign power, you are in a

fundamentally different position, and I don`t view that person as a that

organization as a pure – that person has appeared journalists or that

organization is a journalistic organization.




MELBER:  That`s how Holder put the balancing test on the issue.  As with

all matters of government versus the press, part of the challenge isn`t the

rules in the abstract.  Think about it like this.  Who do you trust

applying those rules?  Do you trust your government reflexively?  Are you

skeptical of government power because it is awesome power to arrest, to

investigate, to jail, to execute?  It is a power that can end up in just

about anyone`s hands.





news media.  They are truly an enemy of the people.  The fake news, enemy

of the people.  They`re really are.




MELBER:  For special conversation I`m joined by Andy Greenberg from Wired. 

He interviewed Julian Assange for more than two hours in 2010, the year

that is the time when this crime was allegedly occurred in the court of the

indictment, David Hickton a U.S. Attorney, Founding Director the University

of Pittsburgh Institute for cyberlaw policy and security, and Jesselyn

Radack Director of Whistleblower and Source Protection that Exposed Facts

and a former Justice Department Ethics Attorney.


I really appreciate each of you.  Jesselyn, does anything concern you about

the theory of the case in this indictment?



concerning.  Under Obama, there was basically a war on whistleblowers and I

always said that this could be a backdoor to a war on journalists or on a

news outlet, and that`s what we`re seeing come to full fruition right now.


And I really think the arrest of Assange puts all journalists and

publishers at risk of prosecution under the Computer Fraud Abuse Act which

is the tool of choice for today, prior it had been the Espionage Act, but

the computer fraud abuse Act is just as much an overbroad law that can be

incredibly punitive and has been used against a number of the

whistleblowers that you think of like Chelsea Manning and Tom Drake, and

Edward Snowden.


I mean there were CFAA charges that the government tried to bring in those

cases as well.  And publishing classified information is not a crime.  You

can read the newspaper every single day and read leaks of classified

information.  So I think we need to think long and hard about

criminalizing, I mean, do we want to criminalize MSNBC or Ari Melber – do

we want to – you know, for talking about this stuff?  I mean, we`re

talking about a really bad precedent that could be set here.


MELBER:  David, your view as a prosecutor?


DAVID HICKTON, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  I disagree.  First of all, if you

regard this as the continuation of the Trump assault against the media, I

would agree with you and the (INAUDIBLE) warnings that all media at risk

would apply.  But I think we`re not talking about a publisher here, we`re

talking about someone who was conspiring with a leaker, a person who was

already given many classified information, lots of classified information

and he was working with him – her to get additional information.


So I think the facts are important and how we define what happened here is

very important.  Look, Assange is a shiny object in three spheres, in the

Manning case, in the 2016 election, and generally in our campaign to apply

law to digital space.


I think this is a good development.  I think this is an important step in

making sure that we are dealing with the borderless world of cybercrime.  I

think if you look at the Mueller indictment in July it is very clear that

WikiLeaks is a key component in understanding and I don`t – I reject the

word collusion, that`s never been the word, it`s conspiracy, the GRU

through Fancy Bear was giving information to WikiLeaks and that was alleged



The question of how it got into our space and whether there were Americans

participating in that conspiracy is still unanswered.


MELBER:  I appreciate –


HICKTON:  That`s to follow.


MELBER:  Right.  And I appreciate your perspective as a prosecutor and

that`s why you`re here.  And I would observe for the viewers the charges

they`re here though are not about 2016 which are fascinating it`s about

2010, and there has been a big evolution in how people view Mr. Assange.  I

pointed out how controversial he is.


We want a play so folks remember Donald Trump used to cheer him, today

reversed himself.  But a lot of different folks at different times have had

views.  Take a look.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  One of the major reasons for government secrecy is to

protect the government from its own population.  We should pay attention to

what we learn from the – from the leaks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I just – first of all, I think that WikiLeaks

has done such an important job to get the truth out.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  Julian Assange, fascinating.  I do

hope you get free one day.  I wish you the best.


TRUMP:  We love WikiLeaks.  Boy, they have really – WikiLeaks.


I know nothing about WikiLeaks.  It`s not my thing.




ANDY GREENBERG, SENIOR WRITER, WIRED:  Well, I think the important thing to

remember is that 99.5 percent of what Assange has done in his career is

what a journalist does.  It`s combative, adversarial, incendiary, highly

controversial journalism, but particularly this 2016 stuff and everything

with you know, Russia`s Fancy Bear hackers feeding them information.


But the cardinal sin, the one thing that has allowed the justice – the

Department of Justice to label Assange as a hacker rather than a journalist

is this one password that he allegedly offered to crack eight years ago

that as far as we know failed to crack, but it shows that the tiny, the

thin line between being a modern journalist and being a hacker.


We`ve seen other journalists stumble across this line before like Matthew

Keyes, Barrett Brown and spent years in prison for these kinds of what I

would say are actually quite small violations of this over-broad law of the



MELBER:  Would you be concerned – you know, the digital part can get very

complicated.  Would you be concerned if you use a Watergate analogy that at

certain points if Bob Woodward is moving the flowerpot and then he`s

talking about how to get the information, then he`s saying please bring me

more classified information, then he`s saying well maybe you want to talk

to the general counsel at the FBI to get me.


At what point do you worry whether it`s on or offline that the journalists

under this prism is now being accused of conspiring because they sought

information because Assange is clearly a controversial example but

journalists routinely seek information that would be illegal to reveal?


GREENBERG:  I think that that`s what is disturbing in the indictment that

you`re pointing to is that most of the indictment is about Assange asking

for more information which is absolutely something the journalists do with

their sources even when they`re asking for classified information,

something that the leak of which is a – is a legal act.  That`s what

journalists do and have done for generations.


There is this other line where suddenly you`re helping them to break the

security of the network that they`re taking information from, and that`s

what Assange is accused of doing.  But in one case, eight years ago, it

shows that kind of grudge that the Department of Justice can hold against

alleged hackers and sometimes somebody who might be a journalist and it`s

very difficult to draw the distinction.


MELBER:  David, your response?


HICKTON:  What we were talking about all those years ago was classified

information about our forward movements in Afghanistan.  That`s what we

were talking about.  And it was being leaked by a security analyst in the

government.  That`s what we`re talking about.  Now, I think that we have to

step back and try and decide where we want to go because we are still

building this plane as we fly it.


We are applying law to digital space in real time and we have pre-digital

norms which guide us.  Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not lie.  Just

because you walk into a grocery store and something is apparent does not

mean you can take it.


MELBER:  Well, David, and I`ll push you on that –


HICKTON:  – everything is now on a digital forum does not mean you can

just –


MELBER:  Let`s leave digital side.  The Pentagon papers was one of the old

pre-digital lines which was yes, you can`t leak the Pentagon information. 

That is illegal.  But when the Times wanted to publish it, and the Nixon

administration took them to court on a prior restraint, they won that case. 

I guess my question for you is what is the limiting principle if you go

after publishers now?


HICKTON:  This is why we have the Supreme Court.  These clashes are going

to occur and whether you are pushing the frontier of what the law is, is

the right privilege and responsibility of the journalist, I agree.  But

whether you`re protesting or you`re a journalist pushing the boundary, you

may decide that you`re going to violate the law because that violation is

more important in the case of Pentagon Papers which expose the lie about



But we still have to order the environment and we cannot go so far as to

say that forward movements in a war theater can be routinely leaked. 

There`s some things that need to be remain classified in secret.


MELBER:  Yes.  I mean, I again – and I`m going to give Jesselyn last word

for her turn.  Jesselyn, I suppose the issue with that is that`s an attack

on the leaking.  Manning went to jail.  A lot of other leakers have gone to

jail.  What about the notion that a conspiracy charge here by the Trump

administration could it be used in your view against other American



RADACK:  Absolutely.  I think this puts any foreign publisher at risk for

violating U.S. secrecy rules and you have to wonder how that would be

applied to U.S. journalists in countries like China and Iraq and North

Korea, and saying – you know, look I agree certain things should be kept

secret, classified identities, undercover, nuclear design information, that

kind of thing.


But leaks in the public interest that reveal criminality, that reveal war

crimes as in the case of what WikiLeaks revealed in the Collateral Murder

video gunning down people as if you`re playing Call of Duty gunning down

innocent civilians, that is not about Forward Operating Base movements.


MELBER:  We gave ample time to this because it`s so important and ample

perspectives.  I don`t think there`s an easy answer.  Jesselyn, David, and

Andy, my thanks to each of you.  Up ahead we turn to Donald Trump getting

rebuked on an important nomination with Republicans punching back.  But

next up Nancy Pelosi going further than she has ever before on William

Barr.  We have a special guest next.






REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  I`m very concerned about the statements made by

the Attorney General Barr.  He is not the Attorney General of Donald Trump. 

He is the Attorney General of the United States.




MELBER:  Speaker Nancy Pelosi taking on William Barr in very direct terms. 

Center for American Progress is Juanita Tolliver joins me.  What do you

think of what Speaker Pelosi is up to here?



she hit the nail on the head right?  She`s going to push this because Barr

in his testimony yesterday went out there and he essentially did Trump`s

bidding by spilling conspiracy theories, by really just digging into some

of the narratives that Trump has been pushing himself and so Pelosi is

calling that head-on.


MELBER:  Yes.  At times it seemed like Attorney General Barr was doing the

congressional hearing version of a Donald Trump tweet threat.


TOLLIVER:  There you go.


MELBER:  Which is not always what you`re looking – you`re not always

looking for re-tweets when you`re testifying under oath about matters of

life and death.


TOLLIVER:  Especially when you`re the nation`s top law enforcement officer,

right?  This is an attorney general who behaved that way and it`s really

despicable and I commend Speaker Pelosi for sticking to her guns and really

calling for him to release the full report to Congress because the public

needs to know what was included in that report.


MELBER:  When we see Speaker Pelosi out here, she`s definitely punching

back in a big way.  She`s obviously the most powerful Democrat.  I`m

curious what you think we put together a comparison of some of the ways

she`s been leading as compared to the most powerful Democrat in the Senate

Chuck Schumer.  Take a look.




SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  Let me just finish – because you can`t get

your way.


TRUMP:  The last time you shut it down, it got killed.


PELOSI:  Mr. President, please don`t characterize the strength that I bring

to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats who just want a big



SCHUMER:  Whether or not you`re a supporter of President Trump or not,

whatever you feel, there is no good reason not to make the report public.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you trust that we will see the full report.


PELOSI:  It`s a matter of time but we will see it.  I don`t trust Barr, I

trust Mueller.




MELBER:  Do you find when you look at that side by side, do you find her to

be bolder and more effective or just different styles?


TOLLIVER:  Very different styles, right?  Schumer is a New Yorker.  He and

Trump kind of enjoy that banter back and forth, whereas Pelosi, she does

not mince words, she never has, and she has very direct and determined

approach here.


MELBER:  Yes.  I feel like sometimes the takeaway from her is she`s not

having it, and somebody seems –


TOLLIVER:  At all.  And I feel like that comes as a woman maybe, because we

draw the line and she has clearly drawn the line in the sand with Trump on



MELBER:  And it`s interesting with Barr because he`s at the center of all

of this and what we`ve been observing, she has been clearer than almost

anyone earlier about putting the heat on him.  Obviously, she`s got her

strategy for that.  We`ve had a lot of stuff in the show tonight.  Juanita,

thanks for making time for us.


TOLLIVER:  Thanks for having me, Ari.


MELBER:  Absolutely.  I`ll see you again.  And up ahead the infamous Cain

train may be hitting a roadblock on the tracks to the Federal Reserve, a

story we first brought you earlier this week with a big update next.




MELBER:  News tonight on a Trump nomination that`s been rattling both

Washington and Wall Street.  Earlier this week we reported on Herman Cain

potentially getting nominated to the Federal Reserve despite many things he

has done to raise eyebrows.





jobs, jobs.


That`s what I`m talking about.




I believe these words came from the Pokemon movie.


Shucky ducky!




MELBER:  In the news tonight, Cain`s nomination could be dead-on-arrival in

the U.S. Senate.  Because look at this, four U.S. Senate Republicans want

to vote against Cain`s nomination to the Fed, standing up to Trump.  Now,

those Republicans hold the line and Democratic Senators oppose him. 

President trump won`t have enough votes for this unusual bid to mix up the





MELBER:  One more thing before we go.  Tomorrow is Friday and we have a

special segment.  Hip Hop D.J. and Producer Clark Kent, Russian Jewish

Novelist Gary Shteyngart and friend of THE BEAT, Liz Plank will join us for

a special “FALLBACK FRIDAY.”  I hope you will join us, but keep it locked

right here because “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.








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