Congress wins Subpoena fight with Don Jr. Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.
BRETT MCGURK, MSNBC SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Policy, is this
working? Do we need to adjust? We don`t have that. The national security
system kind of moves on its own. It doesn`t know what to do. And that can
cause a lot of risk around the world.
And what we might be seeing with Iran is we are putting pressure on them,
they`re maneuvering. We`re picking up an intelligence. We maneuver and it
increases the risks of accidents and a lot of wars can start by accident.
And on top of that, we don`t have any diplomatic channels with Iran because
those have been severed. So we`re in a risky period. I think cooler heads
here are trying to prevail but –
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Brett, I`ve got to make that your last word about
cooler heads trying to prevail. I think a lot of us hope you`re right
there. Thank you, sir. It`s good to have you on the NBC News team.
MCGURK: Thank you.
TODD: That`s all we have for tonight. I`m going to be back tomorrow with
more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. “THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER” started 20 seconds
Good evening, Ari. My apologies.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: It`s fine. Cooler heads as they say. Thank you,
MELBER: We have a lot of developing stories tonight. Trump Attorney
General Bill Barr now pushing to investigate the investigators. This
comes, of course, after the heat and the contempt vote for misleading the
Also tonight, an untold story from the Mueller report. What a former Trump
aide told Mueller`s team and how it appears he lied about it on this very
show. I have a fact check on that.
And then later, a key revelation inside a New York City trial that is
showing us more about what really happened within the NYPD during the very
controversial killing of Eric Garner. A case that has sparked something of
a national movement. That`s an important story. We`re going to bring it
to you along with those other stories tonight.
But we begin right now with breaking news. It appears Donald Trump, Jr.
has caved to Congress, agreeing to appear for an interview with the Senate
Intelligence Committee. This comes after they pressed him with a subpoena
and it comes after at least one Democratic senator publicly said the
president`s son could face the extraordinary prospect of jail time if he
did, in fact, fully defy that subpoena.
All of this is new tonight and it shows that this system in this way is
working. The interview is stated to be limited to about half a dozen
topics and has a time limit of about four hours. All of this coming hours
after the president was trashing the whole idea that this was legitimate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Why is it unfair, sir, for Don Jr. to be subpoenaed if he`s
pulled out of testifying twice?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, it`s really
a tough situation because my son spent I guess over 20 hours testifying
about something that Mueller said was a hundred percent OK. And now they
want him to testify again. I don`t know why. I have no idea why but it
seems very unfair to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: No idea why. It`s always interesting when someone volunteers an
extra denial. I don`t know anything about that, the president saying. As
for the 100 percent line, well, that`s not quite the case. They did look
at whether the Donald Trump, Jr. meeting in Trump Tower and the interest in
receptivity to receiving information of value potentially from a foreigner
could constitute a crime.
Now, when you look at this though, they ultimately decided that the
evidence would not be enough to obtain and sustain a conviction. That`s
what the Mueller report says. And the president is entitled to his own
views, just not his own facts of what is in the Mueller report.
The Congress clearly has questions for Don, Jr. that it didn`t want to
sweep under the rug. And it appears they will get these answers in this
setting. All of that sets up the next clash between this administration
and Congress because House Democrats are now today setting a formal hearing
date for a different Trump-related subpoena, former White House Counsel Don
McGahn, the hearing now set for a week from today.
Democrats say if he does not show, he will be held in contempt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We`ve subpoenaed
McGahn and we`re expecting him to show up on the 21st and if he doesn`t, he
will be subject to contempt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, that`s the Judiciary Committee. Then have you Trump lawyers
facing questions from another investigative committee, the House
This is what they are saying. They`re going to look at Trump`s lawyers and
they`re going to dig into obstruction. They`re going to look at whether
those lawyers in their view helped obstruct the Russia investigation by
shaping false testimony after Trump`s former fixer, Michael Cohen,
testified that Trump`s lawyers helped edit his congressional testimony.
Now, again, he is someone who has confessed to misleading Congress. So the
big question is whether other people might have been in on that. Intel
Chair Adam Schiff ready to issue subpoenas. With all of this drama though,
could be easy to miss the larger headline tonight.
So let me tell you what it is. Congressional subpoenas are a very real
thing. They can`t just be ducked. And that`s true even if in a scratch my
back, scratch your back type of town like Washington, even if you`re the
Now, Don, Jr. could not run out from this subpoena. Does former Trump
lawyer Don McGahn really think he will be able to?
I take that question to my panel beginning tonight with Maya Wiley, former
counsel to the mayor of New York City and Brittany Cooper, professor at
Rutgers University. Good to see you both.
BRITTANY COOPER, PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Good to see you, Ari.
MELBER: Brittany, I begin with you on the political science of this, which
is this is not just about subpoena rules, it`s an inner-branch clash. What
does it tell you as we come on the air tonight that Don Jr. actually
buckled in the part of this clash?
COOPER: You know, what I`m more concerned about is the way that the White
House is attempting to bully and subvert our separation of powers and
checks and balances process. And so yes, I am heartened by the fact that
Don, Jr. has had to submit to this process.
But the fact that the Trump administration is fighting Congress at every
level is all about this sort of broader problem of obstruction of justice.
The Trump administration believes that they should not be held accountable
to the American people to any levels of government. There are clear
indicators and evidence that significant crimes and breaches of protocol
have been committed here that need to be investigated.
And what should concern us all is what happens if the person who is elected
to lead the country says that our processes shouldn`t be respected. This
undermining of our view of government creates a real crisis of confidence
in the country in addition to this battle over whether there is a crisis of
constitutionality. I think there absolutely is.
And so I`m not as excited about the fact that Don, Jr. will testify because
will he do what Lindsey Graham told him to do, which is to invoke the Fifth
Amendment? And so then to symbolically cooperate but not actually
MELBER: Well, based on the reporting we have, and it`s fluid, would appear
that he`s not looking to that because they`ve negotiated for hours. In
other words, if your plan is to come in and say I`m now invoking the Fifth,
I don`t have anything to say. You don`t need to negotiate a four-hour
COOPER: I mean that assumes that everyone is negotiating in good faith.
Then there is nothing about the way the Trump administration has worked
that tells me that they respect this process or think that it`s happening
in good faith.
So you see the president coming out today saying this is all unfair. That
sets up a pretext for not being participatory in ways that are actually
going to be effective.
MELBER: What do you think?
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Well, I
personally am very excited about the testimony but that`s wearing a legal
lens. I actually agree with the constitutional crisis point when you have
20 investigations that this administration is actually obstructing in
I think part of what`s happening here is that we`re talking about the
Senate Intel Committee and Senator Burr, who is actually one of the people
who had a back channel to the Trump administration basically letting them
know who the FBI was looking at.
I think the issue for Donald Trump Jr. which does raise the question of
whether or not he might invoke the fifth at least for part of the
testimony. He might – there may be categories he wouldn`t invoke it for
and categories he would.
He has made a statement to Congress that he did not have awareness of other
foreign governments trying to support the campaign when he had had a
meeting on August 2016 with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and then
there was the conversation that Erick – when Erick Prince was involved
The question then becomes, how is that not perjury? That particular
statement, there are other statements he`s made where you can raise the
question of perjury. That one seems a lot more clear than some of the
others where he may be able to say, well, that wasn`t an exact lie. It was
just a sort of lie.
WILEY: So I think that`s a real issue for him.
MENENDEZ: And what do you think is going on with this committee? I mean
Democrats have blasted the Republicans for a range of cooperation or worse
with, as you say, the targets of the investigation. The Mueller report
clearly decided to nail, so to speak, to nail Burr for that.
And yet, this is a situation where they`re putting heat on the president`s
family and what we just saw, the clip I showed that the president showed he
looked a little out of the loop about what the message was or whether this
was going to get solved today. Nothing new there.
But this is – what is your theory for why on this thing of all things, the
Republicans are going hard?
WILEY: Well, I don`t know that all the Republicans are going hard.
MELBER: Well, Burr. I mean in this committee.
WILEY: But certainly, Senator Burr. And I think one of the things we`ve
seen is, on one hand, he has been a party foot soldier in terms of the back
channel. But on the other hand, he also clearly did something Devon Nunez
did not do which is try to adhere to some of the norms of Congress and some
of the boundaries around credibility of Congress being able to do its job.
MELBER: Well, and I think you make an important point, which is I`m not
saying let`s bake them a whole tray of cookies.
MELBER: But –
MELBER: Maybe half a cookie. In other words, there`s got to be – if
we`re all dealing with the facts here, there`s got to be some – whatever
the motivations may be because I myself have been a little confused about
where the Senate committee is on all of this.
But there`s got to be some notation here that maybe just for their own
institutional reasons they were so frustrated that account – according to
“New York Times” and elsewhere, was that they were so frustrated with Don,
Jr. double talking. Eventually, they said OK, the heck with it. That may
not be the greatest reason for constitutional oversight but it is a reason.
WILEY: And it`s a good one in a context of a Congress that has – where
you have a partisan fight about whether or not Congress is going to protect
its constitutional power.
WILEY: And that should matter to both parties.
COOPER: I think the reason that I`m so skeptical is that part of what the
Trump administration has done is lower the bar on what we think needs to be
celebrated or marked as a significant accomplishment. And so I`m just not
going to celebrate them for doing what they`re supposed to do, which is to
comply with subpoenas to keep your word to show up and be accountable.
Transparency in our government is a hallmark of what makes a democracy
work. And when have you an administration who is using its attorneys and
using its party power in one branch of Congress to subvert this entire
process, when we know that there are real concerns about the integrity of
our elections, about the integrity of how the Trump administration has
proceeded with regard to Russia. When we see Trump flirting with dictators
in meetings all week for the last several days and essentially thumbing his
nose at the process and at American values, then I`m not going to celebrate
But certainly, yes, we should consider it a federally cap of Congress that
they`ve got Don Jr. to do the right thing.
MELBER: I`m almost hearing like a parenting level view of constitution
oversight here. You`re like you`re supposed to do your chores. So you
have to do more than that in this household.
Let me bring a member of that body. Both of you stay with me. But Texas
Congressman Lloyd Doggett is on the powerful Ways and Means Committee which
is a big part of this battle. It was in court today on getting Trump`s tax
returns. That`s the auditing side of this. There is more than one avenue.
Good evening to you, sir.
REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX), WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: Good to be with you,
MELBER: How do you grade what`s happening on the Senate side, how
important is it that there was this accommodation reach it would seem that
Don Jr. has partially folded and does that have anything to do with what
your body is trying to do to get Don McGahn to come take a seat and tell
DOGGETT: I think it does. As you`ve indicated, avoiding, refusing a
congressional subpoena is a very serious matter. If Congress cannot
enforce its subpoenas and do its job of oversight, then we really do have a
runaway president that jeopardizes and threatens our democracy and moves us
What we are doing on the tax returns is to enforce a law that is explicit,
that uses the word “shall” that this administration has ignored. President
Trump seems to be on a total obstruction program. No one talks. No one
We have to move forward to enforce those subpoenas and ensure
accountability of which this administration has had none. And it
recognizes that its Republican enablers here in Congress, there is nothing
that President Trump can do or say that will cause them to break their
silence unless it`s to pat him on the back. So it`s our job to assure that
MELBER: I think you laid it out very well. And so Congressman, I want to
push you a little bit.
MELBER: Not really in disagreement but in teasing at a certain point.
Let`s stipulate as lawyers like to do that obviously Mr. McGahn has an
obligation to comply with the subpoena. He`s a White House counsel, he
And so for that reason, he should come testify. But having said that, what
do you say to the argument that that`s not really the biggest priority for
Congress if the bulk of what Mr. McGahn has said in a separate, valid
proceeding under oath to Mr. Mueller has been laid out and it`s now time
for the Congress to decide what, if anything, to do about it, rather than
what some have called a redo. I want to give you the opportunity to
address that tonight.
DOGGETT: Sure. Well, I think we need to hear firsthand from him, from Bob
Mueller. We need these tax returns to speak for themselves about Trump`s
background. We need that rather than just a version of that as reported by
Barr and now we have more of the Mueller report, though not all of it.
So, yes, it`s important to get –
MELBER: What do you think – so on that, with the taxes, of course, we
don`t have. So that`s totally different.
MELBER: But what do you think you might learn from Mr. McGahn that`s not
in the Mueller report since you say you might?
DOGGETT: I think that we would hear, Americans would hear, if he testifies
candidly that he was urged to engage in obstruction directly by President
Trump. And I think hearing that in his words on national television is
much more powerful than just reading it in a report.
We need to know about that and to understand the full reach of obstruction
and destruction of our democracy that`s hurt here.
MELBER: Maya, could you speak to the Congressman`s point? I mean part of
what he is saying is yes, witnesses on the stand make a big difference.
WILEY: Look, when we have had an attorney general that has woven a
narrative around a report that is not consistent with the word of the
report, when so many Americans have not read the report, what we need is
for folks to pay attention to what it actually said, not the headlines that
were driven by essentially a spin.
And I think what is so important about what the congressman is saying, in
this case, is that what Robert Mueller essentially says and it`s very clear
in one of the footnotes of the report is, this is Congress` responsibility.
This is not a criminal proceeding.
The question here, he doesn`t use this language exactly, but legally, this
is the same message, it`s a constitutional purview of Congress to decide
whether or not this president has done something that`s such an abuse of
authority, abuse of power that Congress should take constitutional action.
That is not a criminal proceeding. That is a constitutional proceeding
that only Congress can make, which means Congress has to go through the
COOPER: Right. Congressman, Brittany, and Maya, thanks to each of you.
Congressman, appreciate you coming on THE BEAT tonight.
Coming up, we have a lot more on the show. Bill Barr ordering this new
review of how the Russia probe began saying it`s what Trump wanted. Also,
an exclusive breakdown of key moments in the Mueller obstruction case. I
have a fact check for Corey Lewandowski.
Later, police make an important revelation about the chokehold death of
Eric Garner, a tragedy that made “I can`t breathe” something of a national
And then, we have more later in the hour about what it means now that Mr.
Trump Jr. will indeed testify. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT
MELBER: The Mueller report revealed incriminating evidence against Donald
Trump, that he not only tried to thwart the probe into his own campaign
activities but also sought separate probes into his perceived political
opponents from Clinton to Comey. So news coming out of the department run
by Trump`s hand put new – handpicked new attorney general does merit some
And I want you to know about it. Bill Barr is apparently overseeing
another review into the Mueller probe itself. This one by a veteran
federal prosecutor, John Durham, who has handled sensitive reviews of other
conduct by government officials, like alleged misconduct and the treatment
Now, many legal experts say that Durham is on the level. But that doesn`t
mean that Trump`s hopes for his assignment are on the level.
The president has obviously repeatedly said that there should be goals for
the DOJ that are widely understood to be illegal, any effort to investigate
the investigators as he is called for, for vengeful purposes would not be
proper, which adds to all the suspicion.
Now, today, Trump falsely claimed he did not ask for this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No, I didn`t ask them to do that. It was the greatest hoax ever
perpetrated on the people of this country. And you know what, I am so
proud of our attorney general that he is looking into it. I think it`s
great. I did not know about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A more honest answer could be less suspicious. But the
president`s statements can be put aside. We`d still have the fact that
Barr`s new view of Mueller is odd because there were already two that were
in effect. One about under surveillance and the other done by the DOJ`s
internal watchdog reviewing this case just like it reviewed the Clinton
I want to get into it now with David Corn, “Mother Jones” Washington bureau
chief. He`s one of the first reporters to ever write about how the Russia
probe just began. This was a week before the 2016 election.
We should note both as a matter of expertise and as a matter of full
disclosure, you`ve also been cited as one of the sources in some of the
surveillance material that the government found to practice what is
believed to be lawful surveillance. Good evening to you, sir.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Actually, I wasn`t
cited as the source.
MELBER: Was it – go ahead, explain.
CORN: Well, it depends on how much time you have?
CORN: I mean they`ve cited the Steele document, the memos in those
warrants while noting that there is reason to be suspicious of their
origins but that was not my story. It was the Steele memos, themselves.
MELBER: The Steele memos themselves which you wrote about.
CORN: Which I wrote about.
MELBER: And you`re saying – yes. Since I brought it up, let`s get it
clear. You are saying that the actual material submitted to the foreign
surveillance court did not cite David Corn.
CORN: Right it was – that application happened before my story came out.
MELBER: But you were close to it.
CORN: I was close to it.
MELBER: Yes. And that`s I think a matter of interest because you have
been all over this. So I wonder if you can respond to just the basic idea.
On the one hand, no one is saying that Durham is out here, believed to be a
right-wing or a left-wing nut of any kind. And yet this seems close to
what Hannity and Trump have been asking for.
CORN: Well, it`s exactly what they have been asking for. For years now,
we`ve had Trump and this cattery of conservative conspiracy theorists
around him who`ve said the issue isn`t that Russia attacked, the issue
isn`t that the Trump campaign denied the Russian attack and sent signals to
Russia by meeting with Russian emissaries, that we don`t mind if you
Oh, no, no, no, that`s not the issue. The issue is how did this all begin?
How did this investigate? And it all comes back to this notion that
somehow there was a deep state conspiracy early on in the campaign when no
one thought Trump would even win to deny Trump the presidency.
And if this deep state conspiracy was so important, then why was none of
this leaked before the election? I mean there is a lot of logical
inconsistent sis here. But what the bottom line is, is that whether it`s
Hannity or the Republicans in Congress or the president in the White House,
themselves, they don`t want us to focus on the Russian attack and how Trump
basically helped it by claiming that the attack wasn`t happening and
amplifies Russian –
MELBER: Right. So what do you think Barr is doing here? Do you think he
is kicking the can down the road to say, Ok, you ordered another thing or
do you have reason to believe or concern that this could be a mechanism to,
as discussed, investigate the investigators, to basically create backlash
to them doing their jobs in a probe that as you and I have noted before
seemed to work because it caught a lot of felonies?
CORN: Well, I think it`s all of the above. I think this is part of the
distraction that we saw Barr go along with. It comes from the president
but he went along with it when he said there was no collusion and there was
no obstruction. Now, he spins and falsely said that Trump cooperated fully
with Mueller, which we know is not true.
So he kept creating these distractions and I think this is yet another one.
So, even though the report comes out, the Mueller report, that shows the
president misled the public about the Russian attack and start to benefit
from it and lied about his dealings with Russia while he`s trying to
negotiate a deal.
All these tremendous scandals within scandals, he is out there saying, no,
we need to look at the investigators. And what it does do, as you alluded
to there, Ari is that it creates a chilling effect for the FBI. Would you
want to open an investigation to Trump, anyone related to Trump, or anyone
on the Republican side right now knowing that you could then become
MELBER: That`s an important point that you are saying, that even if this
doesn`t ultimately go anywhere and Durham`s folks and the DOJ are quick to
say it`s not necessarily even a criminal inquiry at this juncture, he
already sets a vibe of, hey, there are people who are prosecutors. They
have a lot of power who are standing around saying, hey, we`re going to
look at anyone who gets too close to this, because you know, it could be
So it sort of shifts it. It would be interesting if that was the way civil
liberties operated throughout the country if you had this in every police
department in the country, which my point being you don`t. You take a
listen last night, Sean Hannity, on his view of all this. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: This is huge news, a colossal step forward
for equal justice and equal application under our laws. It`s what we have
been telling you is a big part of what is coming. Now, if you are
counting, this is now the third investigation into the deep state taking
place in Barr`s DOJ.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORN: Well, we`re not up to 17 Benghazi investigations yet. Everybody
involved in this, even a few responsible members on the Senate side,
Republicans, at least at one point said there was a reason to investigate
the connections through the Trump campaign interactions and Russians after
they got information from George Papadopoulos, who has been a guest here,
saying that the Russians told him they had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
This set off alarm bells. The general counsel at the time at the FBI,
James Baker, recently has come out and said we were concerned about Russia.
We do this. This is what the FBI does.
MELBER: So what do you say as a final thought to folks who are watching
this, and they`re saying well, David makes good points, Hannity seems to be
cheering this on. There was a sustained effort by Donald Trump during the
Mueller probe to get the DOJ to a place he wanted and it looks, according
to Hannity, much closer to that. What do you say to people who are
despondent about that?
CORN: Don`t take your eye off the big picture, which is what happened in
2016 and Trump`s aiding and abetting of it. And yes, everything should be
investigated. There is an IG inquiry now. I would wait to see what that
But the idea that this is the bigger story, that this is the deep state is
attacking Trump in July of 2016, at some point we need to have a reality-
based debate in this country and you don`t get that by listening to Sean
Hannity or unfortunately, the president, and now even the attorney general.
MELBER: You know, David, you always tend to get insightful. And here at
the end, I feel like you are taking us to an emotional place, which is you
can`t have closure without truth.
CORN: Well, I don`t think this country has fully come to terms with what
happened in 2016 and one reason is that Donald Trump and the people around
him and his defenders on “Fox” don`t want us to.
MELBER: David Corn, getting your views and your insight, thank you, sir.
CORN: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Up ahead, we have a lot in this show. As I mentioned, an
important story about the Eric Garner video that sparked a national
movement. There is a trial revelation we want you to know about.
But first, inside the Mueller report, how Donald Trump was plotting with a
former aide to undercut the probe and a fact check he needs to hear when
I`m back in 30.
MELBER: In other news tonight, House Democrats bearing down on whether
team Trump tried to obstruct the congressional probe which echoes some of
the patterns of alleged obstruction outlined in the Mueller report itself.
Now there are Democrats who say the report already proves enough crime to
begin impeachment hearings. Senator Warren takes that view. Others say
the next step is for Congress to hear directly from Mueller`s sources for
the damning stories in the Mueller report. Hence, this escalating fight
over whether dawn McGahn will testify.
The Mueller report cites Trump`s dealings with his White House team
including McGahn, Bannon, and Priebus. And Trump proved canny though about
reaching beyond those federal employees who had many of their own reasons
to avoid joining in a potential criminal conspiracy.
So tonight, I want to dig into the facts that show actually how far Donald
Trump would go because when some of those aides refused to carry out his
bidding, Trump turned to someone off the government payroll entirely, his
former and first campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
So this takes you all the way back to after dawn McGahn famously refused to
fire Bob Mueller despite the President`s orders in June 2017 may have saved
the Trump presidency. The Mueller report reveals that after that, Trump
didn`t stop. He didn`t let up. He instead turns to Lewandowski who was
out of government asking him to deliver a message to Sessions to press him
into his speech to declare Trump shouldn`t have a special prosecutor and
that sessions would have to then “limit his jurisdiction.
Now, that`s a big ask. Lewandowski failed to meet up with Sessions and
then Trump pressed him in another private meeting a month later saying, if
Sessions did not meet with him, Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was
What? I mean, you don`t have to be an expert at this to know that cabinet
members are not supervised, let alone fired by random people outside the
government that may know the president. Well, Lewandowski knew that too.
He did look into trying to deliver Trump`s message but he worried about
Mueller writing that Lewandowski wanted to pass the message to sessions but
in person rather than over the phone, and not at the DOJ because he did not
want a public log of his visit. Meaning, he was feeling guilty.
Now, Mueller found that Lewandowski never actually did send the message
partly because of what I just read to you, those efforts to try to hide it
made it harder to pull off the plot. And like so much in this Mueller
report, this incriminating material, it`s not from Trump critics or random
outsiders, the footnotes for these stories are mostly Lewandowski, a little
bit of John Kelly and some other evidence.
MELBER: So these are the receipts of that plot. Now, this looks like bad
news for Mr. Lewandowski who`s actually appeared on this show several
times. In fact, in one appearance this February, I specifically pressed
him to answer if President Trump asked him to ever get involved with
Sessions or the DOJ probe. This is important.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I don`t ever
remember the President ever asking me to get involved with Jeff Sessions or
the Department of Justice in any way shape or form ever.
MELBER: OK. So –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Ever, any way shape or form, blanket denial. That`s obviously not
true. Lewandowski did remember it because, under penalty of perjury, he
remembered Trump asking him to get involved with Sessions in so much detail
that it was just ten months earlier that he was telling Mueller all about
So Lewandowski was not only making a false statement in our interview, he
was making it knowing that he`d already told Mueller the opposite so they
were good odds that that testimony about all of this, about what Trump
asked him to do his Sessions would later come out.
So I ask you tonight. Why would he catch himself in a falsehood like that?
I`m asking you because when we asked Mr. Lewandowski to explain himself or
come back on the show, he has not responded. So let me go ahead and go
One clue here comes in how Donald Trump learns about what his aides say
about him to Mueller because the New York Times reports that the President
hasn`t even read the Mueller report himself and that witnesses know his
view of them actually just depends on how they and their Mueller
testimonies ultimately portrayed on T.V.
Now, Corey Lewandowski knows Trump`s habits better than most. From the
start, he may have calculated that he could stay on Donald Trump`s good
side by deceiving his old boss on T.V. while telling the truth about his
old boss` efforts to thwart the probe to Mueller. So just think about that
for a minute.
The man who ran Donald Trump`s presidential campaign may have concluded
that he actually owes Bob Mueller the truth but can get away with deceiving
his own old boss Donald Trump that he says he`s so loyal to. And
Lewandowski may figure he`ll continue to get away with it as long as this
part of the Mueller report is basically never covered on television, which
means I guess Mr. Lewandowski is hoping the president is not watching this
broadcast and never hears about it.
If the President were to hear about it, it appears unless Mr. Lewandowski
calls us back and gives us more context, it would appear the President will
learn that some of his most senior aides who he believes to still be loyal
are not willing to tell him the truth and he`d know that they appear to
continue to use television not to promote him, although they do that, but
to manipulate him. That seems like the kind of thing the president might
have an interest in knowing.
Now, still ahead tonight, Don Jr. did cave to Congress on the subpoena
there. What will it mean when he actually testifies and why is he
backtracking? We have an expert on that. And then major revelations about
what is deemed an illegal chokehold from inside the NYPD. This is a
reckoning five years after Mr. Eric Garner`s death. You`re looking at some
of that tragic video. We have someone who was involved in all of this here
MELBER: We have new developments tonight in a story that involves
something that happened a long time ago. But what I`m about to show you is
important and the delays may be a tactic to get you not to pay attention to
it. As mentioned earlier in the show, I`m talking about the NYPD officer
who killed Eric Garner, an incident that occurred nearly five years ago.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo was accused of using a banned chokehold in this
video you may recall and having to reckon with a disciplinary trial. Now,
after Garner`s death, a grand jury declined to indict on this and initially
there were no internal charges. In fact, the officer is still getting
Now, New York Civilian Complaint Review Board is reviewing the case and
they have testimony from internal NYPD investigators that revealed they
actually determined that that officer was using a forbidden chokehold on
Garner, and they recommended disciplinary charges against him for all of
this all the way back in 2015.
Eric Garner was a 43-year-old married father of six. He got into this
struggle with these officers as you can see here over a dispute about
whether he was selling loose cigarettes in New York. What started as you
see here with a conversation turned into what many people characterize as a
classic example of police brutality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC GARNER, VICTIM OF POLICE BRUTALITY: I`m minding my business, officer.
I`m minding my business, please just leave me alone. I told you the last
time, please leave me alone. Please don`t touch me. Don`t touch me. I
can breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Garner was ultimately heard saying I can`t breathe 11 times. You
may recall that phrase or parts of this video because it became something
of a rallying cry for many activists raising awareness about police
brutality. And given these new revelations, today Garner`s mother speaking
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GWEN CARR, MOTHER OF ERIC GARNER: It`s been five years, five years. They
should have been gone. Pantaleo along with all the other officers who
killed my son. He must be fired. We will not accept any other option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by Maya Wiley who is, of course, an attorney and MSNBC
Legal Analyst, but also was in charge of the New York City Civilian
Complaint Review Board in 2016-17. That is the oversight agency dealing
with the case. Thanks for coming back to discuss this. I know it`s
something you`ve worked on. Walk us through what`s important about this
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we have to deal in this society
with this question about how do you police the police. And really there
are a couple of different mechanisms available to us. One which is the
long-standing one is the Internal Affairs Bureau which are the police
inside the police department who receive complaints and run investigations
on officers who may have done wrong.
What we have in New York City is one of the oldest Civilian Complaint
Review Boards where citizens or witnesses – you don`t even have to be a
victim yourself can file a complaint and say a police officer did wrong and
it falls within your jurisdiction and we can investigate. The reason this
is so important is because it was the ability of having separate civilian
oversight that enabled this case to finally come to trial this week.
MELBER: And you`re saying that is in contrast to what happened with the
initial DEA prosecution or review. Walk us through what you mean by that.
WILEY: All right, so in Staten Island you had – I mean of course the
question of whether or not a crime was committed by Pantaleo, officer
Pantaleo and the grand jury returned no indictment. So then the question
becomes, does the police department keep Pantaleo or discipline him which
can include termination at its most serious. And of course, the question
then becomes who provides that oversight.
One of the things that people tend to get confused about is as a matter of
practice, not requirement but of practice, if there`s a possibility of a
prosecution we usually wait for that process because we don`t want to do
anything that might interfere with it. And so in this case, we had the
Department of Justice as at the federal level examining where there was a
criminal civil rights violation after the Staten Island District Attorney
did not –
MELBER: Right. Which is an even higher bar because it gets into whether
there was a listed motive.
MELBER: A lot of law enforcement experts look at that tape and before you
get to questions of motive, it looks like improper policing that escalated
and then choked someone to death who was unarmed.
WILEY: I think you can take it a step further because I was counsel to the
mayor in City Hall when this happened and attended the press conference
with the mayor and then-Commissioner Bill Bratton who acknowledged in that
press conference that it appeared to be a violation of the Department`s
policy which forbids chokeholds unless there`s some exceptional
We have a video that does not seem to identify any exceptional
circumstances. You could go one step further. I don`t know if you notice
it in the video, it was an important fact in the trial this week, is there
are sirens in the background because backup was coming.
So the fact that officer Pantaleo goes to a chokehold with a civilian whose
hands are up who`s backing away, in other words not posing any physical
threat to the officer, there`s no allegation he was armed, and back up his
coming and then he physically jumps and wraps his arm around.
MELBER: And so final question given how much work you`ve done on this.
What do you say to the concern that people have that`s something that is
this egregious on tape years later still has the officer working to say
nothing of any criminal accountability?
WILEY: Well, let me say something more broadly than this particular case
because I think one of the things that`s tragic is a Pew Research study
found that police officers themselves, only 27 percent said that there was
appropriate action taken for police wrongdoing, and that`s the broad
variety of wrongdoing.
But I think if we`re hearing that police officers themselves throughout the
country are acknowledging that there`s not sufficient accountability for
misconduct, that`s something that we have to pay attention to.
MELBER: Maya Wiley, thank you for your work on this and as always your
WILEY: Thank you.
MELBER: We have a lot more on the show and we will be right back.
MELBER: Breaking news. Donald Trump Jr. has caved to Congress and will
actually testify before a Republican-controlled Senate Committee, the
Intelligence Committee. The terms tonight as they are being reported
looked like a private interview limited in time to about four hours in a
scope of discussion of no more than six topics.
But it is a breakthrough clearly after a lot of wrangling over whether the
Senate would make him testify. Former Federal Prosecutor Gene Rossi is
here. What did it say to you that after a very high-profile debate it
appears Trump Jr. has folded?
GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think he`s followed his lawyer`s
advice and I think cooler heads have prevailed. I think it was a wise
decision because he was facing contempt, possibly a fine, and maybe
incarceration. It was a good decision on his part.
MELBER: Interesting that you put it that way. And it may be the best
legal avenue he has. We do have some idea given the Mueller report of what
he would be concerned about. To pick the most obvious example, you know,
you can obstruct even without an underlying crime and you can lie to the
authorities for all kinds of reasons.
Here we see in his Senate testimony that we have, did you inform your
father about the Trump Tower meeting or the underlying offer prior to the
meeting. No, I did not. Now, in the Mueller report, in the treatment of
conspiracy volume one, we see Cohen recalling being in Trump`s office in
June and Trump Jr. told his father a meeting to obtain adverse information
about Clinton was going forward. Your analysis.
ROSSI: Well, here`s a thing, Ari. When I was a prosecutor for almost 30
years and I had a witness who testified under oath like Donald Trump Jr.
has, and then I called them back after many hours of testimony and after
providing documents, there`s one major reason why I did that. I found a
document or documents that strongly suggests that what he said under oath
was not accurate, possibly perjurious.
And I got to say this, probably the only two politicians in Washington D.C.
who are actually working together and across the aisle are Senator Mark
Warner and Senator Richard Burr. And they didn`t just issue this subpoena
lightly they discussed it and came to an agreement that we need Donald
Trump Jr. back because there`s information he provided to that committee
under oath that is probably opposed and contrary to documents that show
that he may not have told the truth.
MELBER: Well, what about the one I just showed you, does that look
perjurious to you or you need more context to tell?
ROSSI: That one is probably not a slam-dunk perjury charge based on what
you showed me but it does show in an intent possibly to deceive, to
obstruct, and to obfuscate, similar to what we`ve been here in the last
three weeks by certain individuals in the Department of Justice.
MELBER: Yes. Well, Gene Rossi, you make some great points there. And it
is as you say, very interesting to see this on a bipartisan basis. It also
really shreds a lot of the sort of the legal nihilism we`d been hearing of
folk saying well, maybe subpoenas don`t matter anymore or maybe the Trump
family should just say no because they want to leave it as what Mueller
found and nothing else, and of course that`s not how congressional
So that alone makes it interesting. We`ll see what comes out of his actual
testimony. Gene, thanks again for your analysis.
ROSSI: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MELBER: When we come back, you will never believe who is explaining why
Donald Trump`s approach to corporate America is exactly backwards. We`ll
show you when we come back.
MELBER: It was our honor to have six members of the Wu-Tang Clan on THE
BEAT. And we went a lot deeper than just what was able to be aired on the
show. In fact, I did a separate 30-minute conversation on politics,
therapy, race, Kung Fu, chess, and a whole lot more. This is from that
longer conversation. Here is RZA talking Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RZA, RAPPER: If America is a corporation and America is just a big
company, then Donald Trump is a good guy to run it.
Yes, we got departments. We got everything that divide everybody and send
it around. That`s the hustle, that`s the hustle. I don`t care who is the
president, my community has not changed much.
There`s still violence, there`s still drugs, there`s still poverty. So
that`s – so for us, we`ve got to do what we`ve got to do on our own. You
know what I mean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: RZA went on to tell me about why he backed Hillary Clinton in 2016
and was talking about that up through Election Day. The entire digital
exclusive with Wu-Tang Clan is out today. So this is the first time we`ve
put it out. You can find it on YouTube or on Facebook @THEBEATWITHARI or
Google, YouTube – Google, YouTube or any search engine you like. Put in
Wu-Tang (ph) and THE BEAT and you`ll find the whole interview, 30 minutes.
That does it for us. “HARDBALL” starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the