Dem threatens Trump JR. TRANSCRIPT: 5/9/19, The Beat with Ari Melber.

Guest: Matt Miller, Katty Kay, Juanita Tolliver, Glenn Kirschner, David Mandel, Frank Rich, Common

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chuck. I`ll tell you on the show we

have people from “Veep” where art sometimes imitates life. I don`t know if

you`ve caught this season at all but sometimes it feels close.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  I have.  Oh my God, I have.  I feel like Hillary

Clinton when she was with Rachel was watching that most recent episode. 

And I`ll just leave it at that.


MELBER:  You know what, sometimes it`s less is more.


TODD:  I don`t know if that`s a spoiler.


MELBER:  Less is more.  I know the no spoiler`s rule and maybe we`ll get

into it in the interview.  Chuck Todd, always good to see you, sir.


TODD:  You got it, brother.  All right, brod.


MELBER:  Thank you.


Now, Donald Trump Jr. has been threatened with jail time if he were to

completely defy this new subpoena he received from the United States

Senate, a bipartisan one at that.  We should also tell that you Donald

Trump laughed when supporters called out openly for the shooting of

undocumented immigrants, something we`re going to get into on tonight`s



And as I was just discussing with Chuck, it may sound like an episode of

“Veep.”  Well, tonight, I have two of the show`s creators, a discussion we

are excited about.


And that`s not all, because before I get into the top story, I want to tell

you that by the end of this hour, you will hear from an Oscar, Emmy, and

Grammy-winning musician, Common.  We`re going to get into a lot on the



But I begin tonight with something you don`t hear every day because you

almost never hear it.  The speaker of the House of Representatives of the

United States declaring this country is now in a “constitutional crisis”. 

Speaker Pelosi saying we are now at that point because of the way the Trump

administration is dealing with the criminal evidence against the president

contained in the Mueller report.


Trump also, as you may have heard, demanding all sorts of people in his

inner circle, simply defying the subpoenas and the request for information

and evidence.  Speaker Pelosi says this is not the end, this contempt vote

that is rattling Washington and the White House.


She says they are prepared to hold other officials in contempt.  And as you

may know, when you go down the org chart, the less important people are way

more likely to end up in a real jail cell if they have legitimate contempt

proceedings against them.


Now, Donald Trump trying to stop Mueller from, of course, breaking his

silence.  And this is interesting.  The president going pretty off script

in an event that was billed as a discussion of medical billing.  Trump

making a new case that seems to conflict with his own old arguments about

why he didn`t obstruct justice.





no collusion, no collusion and essentially no obstruction.  Of course, a

lot of people say, “How can you obstruct when there was no crime?  When

there was no collusion?  How can you possibly obstruct?”


I tell you, but it`s worse than that.  It`s not only was there no crime but

the crime was committed on the other side.  So we`re protecting against the

crime committed on the other side.




MELBER:  Essentially, no obstruction.  When you`re talking about a felony,

it could be obstruction, it could be grand larceny, it could be a violent

felony.  You don`t really ideally want to be using the qualifier,

essentially, to say why you didn`t do it.


And this may show, this may be a mistake, it may be a tell, it may be a

moving of the goalpost.  Whatever it is though, the president is clearly

concerned that Bob Mueller is going to go in there and say something more

than total exoneration and now his message starts to shift.


Now, as you know from watching the news, we want to keep you up to speed. 

What Bob Mueller did in his careful report was not actually issue a legal

conclusion on obstruction.


He basically said, here`s all the evidence.  And he noted explicitly that

when it comes to the president, a special case, the Congress will

ultimately decide whether and if to do anything about it.


Then, of course, Attorney General Barr decided no, we`re not going to give

this to Congress yet.  And he went and famously announced his personal



So we`re at this inflection point because Democrats are saying, OK, given

everything that`s happened and now that the report is done, it is time to

hear from Mueller himself.  And then you have Donald Trump for the first

time ever in his presidency this week exerting executive privilege.


House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler saying, all of this requires more

fact-finding.  And if they want to hear from Mueller, the testimony day

could be delayed but they`re going to hear from Mueller.  Now, Trump also

used his remarks today to try to again undercut Special Counsel Mueller.




TRUMP:  Bob Mueller is no friend of mine.  We had somebody that is in love

with James Comey.  They like James Comey.


They were very good friends.  Supposedly best friends.  Maybe not but

supposedly best friends.  You look at the picture file and you see hundreds

of pictures of him and Comey.


And with all of that and other things, he wanted the FBI job.  I don`t know

if anybody knows that.  But as you know, he was considered for the FBI job,

wanted it.  And the day after he didn`t get it, he became the special





MELBER:  There`s a lot in there.  I`m not going to spend all our time fact

checking it but there are not hundreds of documented images of these two

appearing together.


Whether or not they`re in love is a matter of the human heart.  I`m not

even going to bother.


But as for that other piece of evidence that Donald Trump claims to have

that Mueller wanted the FBI job, if you`ve read the Mueller report, you may

know, totally false.


The fact-finding and the conclusions in the report note that the White

House asked Mr. Mueller as a courtesy to give Donald Trump views of the FBI

during the tumultuous period where he was trying to find a new FBI

director, and Mr. Mueller agreed to do it.  And it was not a formal job



That`s important because you`re seeing again, Donald Trump balancing his

two messages.  One message is this is over, don`t worry about it, total



But today, maybe under the pressure, maybe under the cracking, maybe under

the contempt vote, maybe under the fear that Bob Mueller could soon break

his silence, Donald Trump hitting his other message.  Going back into

things that have been disproven by his own aides and by the record to

impugn Bob Mueller which makes you wonder, why is Donald Trump so worried

about Mueller breaking his silence.




REPORTER:  Mr. Barr told lawmakers that he didn`t have a problem with Mr.

Mueller testifying.


TRUMP:  I`m going to leave that up to the attorney general as to whether or

not.  I think to me it looks like a redo.




MELBER:  Leave it up to the attorney general.  This is the attorney general

who, of course, is under pressure for contempt for one issue.


It`s not other stuff.  It is hiding parts of the evidence from the Mueller

report.  It is refusing to turn over those documents.


And that brings us to the other thing I told you about that again, if it

feels like there is so much happening, there`s so much drama, there`s such

extreme language.  Well, we are hearing from public officials who have been

careful along the way, they`re using extreme language because they say the

president is acting in extreme and potentially unlawful ways.  They`re

saying we`re now in the “constitutional crisis”.




REPORTER:  Do you agree with Chairman Nadler that the country is currently

in a constitutional crisis?


NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  Yes, I do agree with Chairman

Nadler.  It is a path that is producing results and gathering information. 

And some of that information is that this administration wants to have a

constitutional crisis because they do not respect the oath of office that

they take.




MELBER:  I`m joined now by Katty Kay, Washington Anchor from “BBC News”,

Matt Miller to the Justice Department under the Obama-Holder

administration, and Juanita Tolliver, director campaign to the Center for

American Progress Action Fund.


Matt, when you see it all laid out there, the president`s need to raise his

other defenses and water down some of his older claims about obstruction in

an unrelated event, and the pressure on him and Attorney General Barr and

what the speaker is saying, what do you think is actually happening here? 

And do you agree that we are actually at a crisis or is it not that time




courts respond to what`s happening, whether they`re able to respond

quickly, is going to determine whether we`re in a crisis or not.


I think where we are right now is we`re seeing a complete breakdown of the

constitutional order.  The fact that the White House is not just refusing

to turn over documents on one thing.  If it were just not turning over

documents on the Mueller report, well, that`s unacceptable.  It might – it

could be something that could be worked out over the usual course of

business in the courts.


But it is not just that.  It is the House`s investigations into family

separation.  It`s their investigations into the administration`s failure to

defend the Affordable Care Act.  It`s issue after issue where they`re just

refusing to turn over any documents that get you to the point where the

normal constitutional order has broken down.


And I think if the courts allow that to go on for an extended period of

time, if they take their usual course of action, which is to allow the

White House to drag this out for months, if not years, that I think, yes,

we are in a constitutional crisis.


And I think what – the speaker said something very interesting today,

which is they`re not going to bring this resolution of contempt up right

away.  They may wait and see another committee do the same thing.  There

may be other cabinet members held in contempt.  They may try and force

other subpoenas.


And I think what they`re trying to do potentially is put together a

litigation strategy where they go to the courts and say, well the point I

was just making, which is it is not one thing.  It is everything.  And if

you don`t step in and make this administration change their behavior

immediately, a constitutional crisis is upon us and congressional oversight

may be dead forever.


MELBER:  Yes.  You put it starkly.  And Katty, the attorney general has

shown himself to be willing to really push the limits.  He was at a

departure ceremony, a celebration of sorts for Rod Rosenstein.  There are

any number of ways to deal with that, you certainly don`t need to get into

your own legal problems if you don`t want to.


This is how he dealt with it.  And I want to show this to viewers.  The

attorney general of the United States speaking in public here in the wake

of this historic vote of contempt by the Judiciary Committee.  Take a look.





deputy job was a lot different.  But I`ll tell you now, the attorney

general job is a lot different also.  You like records.  This must be a

record of attorney general being proposed for contempt within 100 days of

taking office.




KATTY KAY, WASHINGTON ANCHOR, BCC NEWS:  Yes.  A funny thing to make a joke

about, right?


MELBER:  For an attorney general.


KAY:  For an attorney general who is facing a contempt charge.  There are

multiple debates amongst constitutional scholars about whether we are in a

constitutional crisis in the moment or whether we get to the point when a

court goes through the process, issues an order, the White House then

defies it.  And would that actually be the moment of a constitutional



So there is some kind of debate about whether we`re there or not.  I think

the issue for the White House is whether they are overplaying their hand,

as Matt is suggesting, by defying demands on every front from Congress.


And then the issue I suppose for the Democrats, on the other hand, is

whether they risk overplaying their hand by asking for so much that they

weaken their legal position as well.  This has to go through the courts.


And the question, as we`ve seen in precedent on this in the Bush

administration, is whether we actually get to a resolution when Donald

Trump is still in office.


MELBER:  Yes.  And Chairman Nadler is very clearly driving this with all

the legal sophistication that he has.  I mean it is so fascinating the way

these relationships sometimes transpire.


Because Donald Trump and Jerry Nadler have dealt with each other.  They

understand each other.  I believe in a certain way – although you wouldn`t

know it recently.  I actually believe in a certain way they privately

respect each other`s hustle.  They are tough New Yorkers.


So Donald Trump knows deep down exactly who he`s dealing with.  And that

Nadler has a plan beyond one vote, one hearing, and that Mueller, of

course, looms in the background.


With that in mind, take a look, Katty, at Chairman Nadler saying what they

can also do today.





we`ll hear from Mueller because we will – if we have to, we will subpoena

him if we have to.  I certainly hope it doesn`t come to the necessity to

subpoena him.




MELBER:  What does it tell you that there is now such a concern over

Mueller talking?


KAY:  That phrase that Donald Trump used today in that kind of slightly

long rambling spiel that he gave talking incessantly, I`m not as convinced

perhaps as you are that that word essentially cleared of obstruction means

that Donald Trump is really backtracking.


I wouldn`t be surprised if Donald Trump goes to the next campaign rally and

the headline is no collusion, no obstruction.  It is possible that he`s



MELBER:  Well, let`s talk it out because I think you raise an interesting

counterpoint.  To me, I`m wondering whether when he controls the

overwhelming narrative of the report, he is comfortable in the no

collusion, no obstruction landscape.


And he thinks – and he may be right.  He`s quite cynical.  But he thinks

that if Barr and their echo chamber on television say this to enough

people, that`s more or less the end of it.


And that if Mueller has a made for T.V. nationally broadcast presentation

of the evidence, even for that crowd, the no obstruction whatsoever,

doesn`t seem to hold as well.


KAY:  Yes, I mean whatever Trump said today about this is effectively

Barr`s decision, there is no doubt that Trump does not want Mueller to

testify.  What is in this for Trump, to have Mueller, the person who has

the ultimate respect and who is the author of the report come out and say,

actually, the president`s definition of whether he was cleared of

obstruction was not my definition.


And to say that to the American people, and it would be blockbuster

viewing, get out the popcorn, everybody would be watching that particular

moment.  So there is no vested interest in the president having that



The White House does feel there is still an interest for them in having

Democrats launch impeachment proceedings, that that is still –


MELBER:  Right.  And some of them may think that fight is good for them.


KAY:  They think that fight is still worth having.


MELBER:  Which is, again, that`s just the politics.  So you have both sides

talking about politics instead of the serious constitutional obligation. 

Juanita, what do you think of all the above?


TOLLIVER:  I think honestly when he has his next campaign rally, Trump is

likely going to be saying, well, what is collusion, what is obstruction,

and muddying the definition further.


Because what he understands is his base probably will not dig into that

nuance.  They probably already don`t believe Mueller.  And so he`s just

going to double down on that.


And this is straight out of his playbook.  Like he showed earlier.  He is

already criticizing Mueller.  He is already throwing false accusations out

there about his reputation, trying to sully his name as well because he

knows that eventually Mueller is going to testify and he`s going to blow

the lid off of everything that Trump has been hiding, leveraging executive

privilege to do it.  And now laying a blanket statement that none of the

people associated with him should respond to subpoenas.


MELBER:  And Juanita, what did you think of Bill Barr`s handling of the

contempt issue today?


TOLLIVER:  Come on.  If this is a joke in his mind, that says a lot about

his character and what he really believes as he is supposed to be the top

law enforcement officer for the American people.  This just double downs on

the fact that he is really right alongside Trump working as his personal

defense attorney on all of this.


MELBER:  Let me just push Matt on this who served for the only other

sitting attorney general who was held in contempt.  Matt, although I think

the tone was different, there are plenty of folks who would say that you

and your boss basically worked very hard to discredit any effort for



Even though ultimately, it did result in, and I`m simplifying but a

somewhat average ruling that disclosed evidence.  How do you respond to



MILLER:  Look.  I think they`re very different.  Not to go back in time to

fast and furious but it was a very different thing then.


By the time Holder was held in contempt, the Justice Department had turned

over nearly 8,000 pages of documents.  They made multiple witnesses

available for interviews.  It was really one set of documents that they

were trying to hold on to.  And as you note, they eventually lost in court.


That`s very different –


MELBER:  Well, I would call it a mixed decision.  Go ahead.


MILLER:  Mixed decision but for the most part, lost.  It is very different

than what`s happening with this Justice Department where they are refusing

to turn over anything.  They are refusing to make witnesses available.


It is very clear that the president is going to exert executive privilege

over Don McGahn`s testimony.  And as for Bob Mueller, I think it is pretty

clear the attorney general is already blocking his testimony.  He may

eventually testify.


But the House wants him next week.  They`ve been asking for him for a

while.  It is pretty clear I think at this point that it seems unlikely to



At some point, it is I think obvious that they don`t want any witnesses to

come forward.  Because as you point out, there are a lot of things Trump

doesn`t understand.  I think sometimes intentionally doesn`t understand.


But one thing he gets is television.  And he knows that if Bob Mueller

comes up and testifies, if Don McGahn comes up and testifies, suddenly

those dry words in the report that most of the American public don`t read,

come alive on T.V. and that`s a problem for him.


MELBER:  And that`s where all the serious constitutional legal stuff

intersects with how people learn things and make up their minds.  It is the

same with debates.


And everyone knows in campaigns, you try to lower the expectations – you

try to raise the expectations on your opponent in the debate because of the

way it`s going to play.  Well, if this is where it ends, you could argue

that Barr did a lot of spins that worked.


I think the concern is they`ve actually changed the expectations game. 

People hear out of Mueller`s mouth, five plus more felonies.  And the way

that evidence is presented, the expectations game may boomerang on them. 

So it`s like that`s why we`re in this high stakes game.


I`m going to fit in a break.  So I want to thank Katty, Matt, and Juanita,

each of you, for your expertise tonight.


TOLLIVER:  Thanks, Ari.


MELBER:  Thank you, guys.


Coming up, we have a top Senate Democrat now giving this red hat warning

for Don Jr. if he defies his subpoena.  We`ll tell you what it is.


Meanwhile, his father coming to his defense.  Donald Trump`s first response

to yes, the subpoena of a presidential family member.  That`s a big deal.


Then this bizarre and disturbing moment at a Trump rally, real-life

politics colliding with the HBO series, “Veep.”




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What the hell are you doing?  Yellow?  Seriously? 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get in the car.




MELBER:  We`re going to get into all of it.  This Sunday is “Veep” series

finale.  Two of the show`s creative minds are here, my very special guest.


And then later, I`m going back up to the roof because I have the one and

only Common on THE BEAT tonight.  Please don`t go anywhere.  I`m Ari

Melber.  We`ll be right back.




MELBER:  A U.S. senator warning Donald Trump Jr. that if he ducks a

congressional subpoena, he could face time behind bars.  Meanwhile, his

father, the president, spoke at length today in defense of his son.




TRUMP:  We found no collusion but I was very surprised to see my son.  My

son is a very good person.  He works very hard.


And frankly, for my son, after being exonerated, to now get a subpoena to

go again and speak again after close to 20 hours of telling everybody that

would listen about a nothing meeting?  Yes, I`m pretty surprised.




MELBER:  Donald Trump, of course, has vowed to fight all the subpoenas. 

Not just those for his family but he addressed all of it.




REPORTER:  Fight that?  Should he fight that subpoena?


TRUMP:  We`ll see what happens.  I`m just very surprised, I really am by





MELBER:  I`m joined by former Federal Prosecutor Glenn Kirschner who worked

for Bob Mueller at the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney`s Office.  Good

to see you.




MELBER:  Let`s start in the fairest possible way.  I reported the day the

Mueller report came out that it clearly did not present much criminal

evidence against Donald Trump for the infamous – Donald Trump Jr. for the

infamous Trump Tower meeting.  And in no other way did it seem to suggest

that his testimony before that investigation was essential or needed.


So what do you say to people had look at all that, including the president,

who I just showed say what is it about?


KIRSCHNER:  So first of all, here `s what I`ll say, Ari.  And I agree with

your characterization when you go through the Mueller report but let`s

focus for a moment on the June 9 Trump Tower meeting.


We just heard the president say at a press conference earlier today that

Don Jr. was telling everybody, who would listen, what that meeting was

about.  And yet, I don`t want to get down into the weeds but let`s look at

Volume I, page 117, where Bob Mueller sets out the truth about whether Don

Jr. told everyone about that meeting.


I`m going to put my glasses on because I`m old.  But it says that the

office of special counsel spoke with all of the participants, and there

were eight of them, in the Trump Tower meeting.  Except Veselnitskaya and

Don Jr. who declined to be voluntarily interviewed by special counsel.


So frankly, the president saying that Don Jr. told everybody everything

they wanted to know is hogwash.  He wouldn`t even talk to special counsel

about that meeting.


MELBER:  What is in your view the priority of the United States Senate

reviewing whether Donald Trump Jr. lied, misspoke, or mischaracterized

something that in this instance though, Bob Mueller, not only – again I

want to be clear, not only did not find the criminal evidence of a crime

but didn`t find it necessary to force Junior to testify.  As you know, he

forced plenty of other people to testify.


KIRSCHNER:  Well, let me answer your second question first.  We don`t know

if Bob Mueller tried to force Don Jr. to testify because on page 117, that

passage that I just read, right after that, Ari, it is blacked out.


I can tell you what is probably –


MELBER:  Yes.  But we know that he reached – you`re right but he did reach

his conclusion.  He did not say that that prevented him from doing so on

that –


KIRSCHNER:  I agree.  He reached a conclusion based on incomplete evidence. 

He did the best he could.  But I`ll bet under that redaction, Ari, it said

that Don Jr.`s lawyer said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right

against self-incrimination if subpoenaed to the grand jury.


And now, fast forward, here we are.  And you asked the question, what does

the committee now want from Don Jr.?  I think they want all the information

to determine the extent of Russian involvement and interference.


MELBER:  Right, which goes to their oversight power.  As you said, you bet. 

How much will you bet, Glenn?


KIRSCHNER:  I will bet at least $1.50.


MELBER:  Will you bet all your old pictures of you and Bob Mueller that we

show sometimes?


KIRSCHNER:  I will not give those pictures up for anything.


MELBER:  I heard people want those signed pictures but they want them more

signed by him than by you, man.


KIRSCHNER:  I don`t disagree.  But my signature and four bucks will get you

a cup of coffee at Starbucks.


MELBER:  I`m kidding.  I would love your signature just like your analysis. 

Glenn, you`ve been in the room, you`ve been there, and you are quick with

the facts and the details.  We always appreciate it, sir.


KIRSCHNER:  Thank you, Ari.


MELBER:  Thank you.


Up ahead in the show later, we have Grammy-winning musician rapper and

activist Common.  He`s on THE BEAT for the first time.  Very exciting.


But in 30 seconds, Donald Trump echoing an episode of “Veep.”  The

executive producers of the show joining me.  We`re back in 30.




MELBER:  Our next story is not about the poet Oscar Wilde, though it does

involve him.  He famously wrote that life imitates art far more than art

imitates life because “a self-conscious aim of life is to find expression.”


That`s clearly the case on HBO`s hit political series “Veep” which has been

teeing off cruel political absurdities for seven seasons.  It`s now

approaching its finale in a Trump era with realities that could have come

from the show`s creators.


Including Frank Rich and David Mandel who join me for a special discussion

right now tonight.  Now, just last night, the president engaged with crowd

chants at a rally that blatantly echoes a “Veep” scene that aired this





TRUMP:  But how do you stop these people?  You cannot.  That`s only in the

panhandle you can get away with that.


JONAH RYAN:  But the other real killer is diseases.  And how do these

diseases get into America?  Immigrants.




RYAN:  Yes.  Well, we don`t have to kill all of them.  I mean there are

some good immigrants.  Beyonce.




MELBER:  Jonah did not seem to know Beyonce was born in Texas, just as

Trump didn`t seem to know Frederick Douglas died back in 1895.  “Veep`s”

new season depicts Selina Meyer`s angling for foreign help in the election,

the role of course played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus whose role has led her to

hanging out with none other than President Obama, a self-declared fan of

the show.


She also hooked up with then-VP Joe Biden for a parody video that had them

cruising Washington in the yellow Lamborghini, breaking into the west wing

which Biden is now eyeing in real life.  And then more broadly, Dreyfus`

character has had a keen eye for the beltway`s unearned arrogance.




SELINA MEYER:  I`m used to dealing with angry, aggressive dysfunctional

men, i.e., men.


No glasses, make me look weak.




MEYER:  It`s like a wheelchair for the eye.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You hired the biggest bastard in D.C.


MEYER:  Oh, yeah.  Well, I`m fluent in bastard.  OK.  It`s one of my



Number one.  Congresses, I`m sick of taking your [bleep].  OK.  Number two,

number one again.




MELBER:  I`m joined by two executive producers of “Veep”, Frank Rich and

David Mandel.  What a time to have you here.






MELBER:  Did the president`s rally remind you of your show?


MANDEL:  Yes.  I mean I don`t know how to say this.  We sit in that

writer`s room.  I spent the last years of my life trying to come up with

things that are impossible to happen.


Like what is the craziest thing I can think of that shouldn`t ever happen? 

And they`re happening weekly at this point.  And it is unsettling actually. 

I don`t know what other word to use.


RICH:  I would point out that Jonah seems somewhat to the left of Trump and

that he didn`t think all immigrants should meet their doom.


MANDEL:  But it wasn`t just the, shoot them.  It was also we had a huge

Florida run and he was in like Panama City, Florida.  We sort of keyed in

on Florida being the state most likely to go for Jonah because of its – I

can`t remember if it was the mix of deadbeat dads, deadbeat moms, it was a

long litany of crazy people in Florida.


MELBER:  Deadbeats?


MANDEL:  Yes, exactly.


MELBER:  Let`s look at Jonah talking about how he has to defeat not only

his critics but his own staff.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know who else thinks that I don`t have the

intelligence or the tenement to be President, my very own campaign staff. 

That`s right.  They have been trying to stop me from becoming president. 

Yes, no, let him have it.




MELBER:  Is Jonah Trump?


MANDEL:  No.  Jonah is not Trump the show has always and dare I say maybe

even a touch more so in my sort of tenure.  The show was originally created

by Armando Iannucci and I took over after the fourth season.  We`ve always

looked to real politics.  We`ve always looked to real history.  If you look

back to my first season in the show, we did sort of our version of the tie. 

You know, we did our version of the Florida tie.  We did a Nevada recount.


So we`ve always looked to the past.  Right now we`ve been trying to look at

what`s going on because things have been changing so much, and so obviously

we`re closer to it, but that`s something to show –


MELBER:  Very close.


MANDEL:  Yes, I obviously –


MELBER:  Very close –




MELBER:  Very close.  Frank, I would ask you a different question –


RICH:  Yes.


MELBER:  With a different clip.  Is Jonah Joe Donnelly?





easygoing guy, but not when Mike Braun keeps lying about my record.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Selina Meyer thinks she can jump our prosperity.


DONNELLY:  The liberal left wants to chop defense spending.




DONNELLY:  No way.  I`m about giving our troops the edge.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Someone is chopping back.  Jonah Ryan will chop

President Meyer down to size.


DONNELLY:  I`m Joe Donnelly and I approve this message.




RICH:  I mean, this guy looked at what we did.  I mean, because we were



MANDELA:  I think he`s Jonah.  I think that`s the answer to that one. 

Jonah is not Joe Donnelly but Joe Donnelly may be Jonah.


RICH:  Exactly.  And you know, get back to the overall you know, these

crazy coincidences or people reading stuff into it, before we were even on

the air, Breitbart having seen that Julia was a Democratic contributor

announced that we were doing a show attacking Sarah Palin, and that Selina

Meyer was Sarah Palin.


MANDEL:  Oh, it`s back –


RICH:  Back at the beginning.  And we keep anticipating stuff.  Early in

the show, we anticipated the – you know, the server scandal, the Hillary

Clinton`s server scandal but she`s not Hillary Clinton and – but you know


MANDEL:  But then later she became Hillary Clinton.  Actually, I would

argue, if anybody`s Trump, Selina is Trump.  I mean not that anybody is

Trump, but people like her like very easily go like woman Hillary, man

Trump, so – but she`s horrific and despicable in many similar ways and

sort of holds grudges and has sort of a you know, a very sort of a hair-

trigger temper and that kind of a thing, but –


RICH:  And pretend to like her family and – and she doesn`t give a lot to

charity, I don`t think.


MANDEL:  Doesn`t give a lot to charity, I think.  Invokes God when she

feels it serves her own purposes.


RICH:  I had to look at the index of our own memoir to find out her own

position on abortion.


MANDEL:  Not fond of her own children and never pays taxes.  But other than

that –


RICH:  Although we have never done a tax returns story –


MELBER:  So is there this overlap because you`re telling human stories and

politics is full of simply extreme humans or is this something specific to

the – to the political class?


MANDEL:  I think it is – to me it`s specific to where politics is these

days.  It just – it just – it has happened where we do try and tell

stories about humans but I do think as we do our research – you know, we

meet at the beginning of every year.  We have sort of – we sort of have

these wonderful consultants from, by the way, both sides of the aisle

because I do think it`s very important to say that while Julia may give to

you know, democratic causes as might I, as might Frank, the show itself

goes out of its way to never mention party.


We don`t – there`s no Democrat, there`s no Republican.  We mix up the

colors the red and the blue.  We mix up the issues.  But you know, we do

our research.  And so a couple of years ago, this is just an example, we

were looking for our sort of 50 mile – 55 mile per hour kind of issue,

kind of like a la Reagan and we landed on daylight savings.


Wouldn`t that be a silly stupid issue for politicians to take very

seriously?  And the reason we did it was because we were told yes, once in

a blue moon, someone brings it up, you know, so we did it.  Then about a

year later, people started doing it for real.  And you just kind of go,

what`s happening?


MELBER:  And Frank, you wrote a lot about this very tendency in political

life and political media towards entertainment when you were writing for

the New York Times.  Right after Bush famously landed the Mission

Impossible carrier you said, Bush is an incumbent who for all his unease

with a teleprompter knows his message and is exploiting T.V. more cagily

than any president in history.


RICH:  Yes,  And he actually for that mission accomplished show, he used

former T.V. news producers and not just from Fox to stage it, and to make

sure the lighting was right, and to make sure that the aircraft carrier was

turned in such a way that you wouldn`t see there was only a couple hundred

mile – not even that far, a couple of miles from downtown San Diego, that

it looked like it was in the middle of the Pacific you know, landing, about

ready to you know, bomb Tokyo or something but instead –


MELBER:  So how do you contrast that to what Trump does?  I mean, I guess

he would use a meme of the plane without actually getting in it.


RICH:  Yes.  He couldn`t be bothered to get in the plane.  And he`s used to

you know, being an NBC star personality for everything sort of he`s just

suited up and settled under the set.  And Bush also was – I mean, it`s not

like –


MANDEL:  But he would tell people he was in the plane.


RICH:  Oh he would.  He would.  Although we have to say Bush gave the

impression when he landed in that plane that day that he had been you know,

flying solo flying –


MANDEL:  Yes, in Vietnam.


RICH:  When in fact, he never left the Texas Air National Guard.


MELBER:  So you`re talking about the size of the lie but the lie persists. 

Frank – go ahead, David.


MANDEL:  I was just going to say – and look, I was no great fan of Bush

but it`s the – it`s that thing that you know the Washington Post is quite

good about charting these days, the frequency of the lies.  I mean, we`re

up to like five a day, you know, whereas we used to be used to one every

month or so or one every – even if it was one every week.


It`s that frequency it`s just – I just – what was it today with the you

know, it`s with the New York Times and the taxes today.  It`s sort of like

I`m really smart, that never happened, the Mueller report exonerated me,

the Mueller report is 100 percent exonerated me, you can`t see the Mueller

report.  I mean, it`s just like what do you do with that?  And it does

start to feel like comedy right or dialogue.


MELBER:  Yes.  And that`s sort of we land where we began yeah but slightly

more depressed.




RICH:  Slightly?


MELBER:  David Mandel –


MANDEL:  A lot more depressed.


MELBER:  A lot more – excuse me, a lot more depressed.  And Frank Rich,

great to have you both here.  As I mentioned Veep season finale airs this

Sunday on HBO.  And up ahead my interview with an Oscar Emmy Grammy-winning

musician Common.  We`re going to talk politics, why he took on Trump at the

Oscars and a whole lot more.  That`s next.






MELBER:  Tonight on the roof I`m joined by world-famous artist and musician

Common who`s won an Oscar an Emmy and is a 20 time Grammy nominee including

winning Grammys for his work with Erykah Badu and John Legend including for

the song for the movie Selma.  And you may know him from his impact on

everything from music, to movies, to policy, and politics.




BEYONCE, SINGER:  – reminding us all once more of the glory of music. 

Ladies and gentlemen John Legend and Common.


COMMON, RAPPER:  The movement is a rhythm to us.  Freedom is like religion

to us.


She talked to me.  You won`t be talking to me.  I thought, she asked me how

I`m doing.  She asked what`s going on.  Where were you at?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There was a poetry reading at the White House.


Progressive rapper Common who was the subject of Fox News Channel`s latest

exercise in fits of hissy, he performed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He always wins.  Everything we do together, he wins. 

If he didn`t win, I would be surprised.




MELBER:  And Common`s new memoir is Let Love Have The Last Word.  You once

said if rap was Harlem, you`d be James Baldwin.




MELBER:  You must have mentored, you`re an author now.


COMMON:  Wow man, I mean, I`m not authoring at that level.  I say that. 

But I do – I am very grateful and inspired that this book is out and that

I was able to tell a lot of my truth or write a lot about my journey to

love better and love in a greater way for myself, for my loved ones around

me, for strangers for the world, you know.


I think it`s – you know, it`s something that in my life I want to from my

experience is be able to tell my experiences so they can – it can help



MELBER:  One of the experiences is you explained you had something that

happened to you that you think you repressed and then it came back to you. 

Tell us about that.


COMMON:  Yes.  So at one part of the book that I talked about being

molested as a kid when I was around the age of nine, it`s almost like one

of those memories I don`t know exactly every – you know, like pinpoint

every detail of but I do remember what happened.


It was something that I didn`t actually even think about or talk about or I

tucked it away in my memories for such a long time until I was doing a film

called The Tale that was based – that was dealing with sexual abuse.  And

I was like – in a scene with Laura Dern, and we were talking in between

scenes and I was like wait, I think this happened to me and it hit me at

that moment.


MELBER:  So you`re on a movie set acting?




MELBER:  And that took you into your own emotions to say wait, I actually

went through this and I haven`t thought about that in how long?


COMMON:  I hadn`t thought about it since it happened.  It was like one of

those things I had forgotten.  And I think that human beings, we deal with

things in different ways.  And I would like to say as people that are –

that are survivors that have been through a lot more difficult situations

than mine and I – and they have to allow themselves the time that it takes

to go through that process and I have compassion for them.


For myself, my experience has been about like me tucking it away and now

having to deal with it in a way that`s like how can I forgive and move

forward.  How do I, when I talk about this also do it from a place that

it`s like man, this is for other people`s healing too.  Like this isn`t

just about me.


The greatest purpose of it is like OK, if I`m telling my story, I believe

that someone can – will relate to it, somebody might be going through a

similar trauma and say man this is – I can talk about this now.


Because me talking about it has helped me and I feel as an artist, as

somebody who`s in the public eye, we always show how great – you know,

like we like OK, you won Oscar, you want – you know, you got these

Grammys, you do – but we also have to – I feel like it`s my duty to show

my flaws too or show my fear.


MELBER:  And that you`re struggling with certain things –




MELBER:  – even as you have this other acclaim.


COMMON:  Exactly.


MELBER:  Someone who doesn`t have as much acclaim as you, I think it`s fair

to say, is the current President.  You might be more popular than him.  And

you know when you get up on the award stage and you mess with him, you know

that bothers him.  We`re going to take a quick look at some of that.




COMMON:  A president that trolls with hate.  He don`t control our fate

because God is great.  When they go low, we stay in the heights.  I stand

for peace, love, and women`s rights




MELBER:  Why was it important for you to say that?


COMMON:  Well, it was important for me to say that because I feel like I`m

a voice for a lot of human beings across our country, a lot of human beings

that are being overlooked, a lot of human beings that are being ostracized

and felt like they should be less than because of either color or religion

or whatever, their sexual like choice, like if they may be from the LGBTQIA



Like it`s a lot of like just pushing people aside in a way, and I and I

need to speak up.  I`m a person that I have to speak up if I see any

injustice or somebody treat – being treated less than where a whole

society is being treated less than and I just decided I needed to speak up.


MELBER:  Did you think he`s going to hear about this?


COMMON:  I mean, it was the Oscars.  I felt that you know, like yes, he`s

going to hear about this and I – you know, I was ready for whatever he

wanted to deliver.  It`s cool but I`m not –


MELBER:  That`s not your purpose.  But do you know why or have a theory why

he seems so bothered by these things?  I mean, he responded to Jay-Z during

the campaign.  Everyone knows who follows this, the right-wing attacked

President Obama when you were at the White House for art, for poetry.  The

President has responded to other celebrities.  What is it about this

cultural power that gets this reaction?


COMMON:  I think for probably the president now, a think a lot of that

seems to be ego, you know, or wanting to be liked.


MELBER:  So we talked about the book, we talked some politics, can we talk

to some music.


COMMON:  Yes, sir.


MELBER:  You did a very controversial song with Lauryn Hill.




MELBER:  And in it, you and she in the song discuss an abortion.


COMMON:  Abortion, yes.


MELBER:  And you have the line $315 isn`t worth your soul.




MELBER:  You say, knowing you`re the best part of life, do I have the right

to take yours?




MELBER:  What was that song about?  What does that mean to you?


COMMON:  That song was very personal because at that point in my life I was

– me and my partner had an abortion and it was – and it was heavy.  You

know, I got to ask a lot of questions about how do I feel – you know,

should somebody be able to have an abortion or should someone have you

know, should we allow that.


I remember having those discussions but one of the great discussions I had

was a person who was a fan skew me, came up to me after the show and was

like man, Common, that song Retrospect For Life, it made me have my child

instead of having an abortion.  It may –


MELBER:  It changed their life –


COMMON:  It changed their life essentially.  It was able to bring a life in

the world essentially instead of that person decided to have an abortion. 

So I felt – I felt like that was actually a thing that really helped make

me realize that music is really powerful and can change lives, and can

really help shape things and made me want to use the microphone for a

higher purpose, for better reasons.


MELBER:  That`s amazing of someone weather whatever the decision is coming

to and tell you that.  And that – and we know music shapes the way people

look at the world.




MELBER:  Before I let you get off this roof –


COMMON:  I love this roof, man.


MELBER:  Let`s finish a few sentences if you will, since you are a poet. 

Hip hop scares some people because –


COMMON:  Because it`s the voice of Black and Latino youth that they in

proximity of, they haven`t been proximate with them so they don`t

understand or don`t choose to try to understand.


MELBER:  In 50 years, people will say hip-hop means –


COMMON:  Has been an amazing outlet for us to understand what – where

America was in the most pure way these voices showed us.


MELBER:  And Common has a lot of careers but if you picked one, it would be


COMMON:  It would be hip-hop artists.


MELBER:  To the end.


COMMON:  To the end.


MELBER:  I really appreciate you coming on THE BEAT.


COMMON:  Yes, thank you, brother.  Thank you.


MELBER:  Thank you, Common.


COMMON:  That was great.




MELBER:  And one more thing, a surprise appearance at Rosenstein`s DOJ

reception, next.







of Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General.



Rosenstein`s credentials.



deputy made the recommendation.  The President made a swift and decisive

action and let Director Comey go.




MELBER:  That was exactly two years ago today when Donald Trump fired FBI

Director James Comey.  As you saw, the stated claim is it was a

recommendation from then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who not

only recommended firing Comey, but then decided there needed to be a

special counsel, hiring Bob Mueller in part to investigate the firing of

Comey he was involved with.


That sounds like a lot.  Well, consider that tomorrow is Rosenstein`s last

official day on the job and he got this reception today where we saw both

Bill Barr and his predecessor, Jeff Sessions.  Rosenstein has been not only

there for every twist and turn of the investigation, he is part of why

there was a special counsel investigation.  And not all the questions have

been answered.


Tomorrow on THE BEAT, I have a special report on all of this.  I wanted to

let you know about that.  And when we come back, one more thing involving





MELBER: We have a special fallback tomorrow at NBC News, Kate Snow and

comedian, Sussie Essman, from, Yes, Curb Your Enthusiasm.  I hope you join

us again tomorrow.


Right now, it`s “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.







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