Sen. Cory Booker joins The Beat. TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/19, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Vivian Figures, Ilyse Hogue, Laura Bassett, Robert Torricelli; Mara Gay; Cory Booker

CHUCK TODD, HOST, MTP DAILY:  New episode of the Chuck Toddcast and get it

wherever you get your podcast.  Leave us a decent review, will you?  That`s

all for tonight.  We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.


“THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER” starts right now, where for the next five hours,

Ari –




TODD:  One-sixth of the entire Democratic field will be outside MSNBC.


MELBER:  That`s right.


TODD:  One-sixth.


MELBER:  That`s a newsy thing to have newsy interviews, one-sixth.  And in

your case, five out of five stars.  If I were better at math, I would link

the two but it`s outside of my skillset.


TODD:  All righty.


MELBER:  Thank you, Chuck Todd.  As mentioned, we have a lot to get to

tonight.  2020 candidate Senator Cory Booker is here at 30 Rock on a clash

between Donald Trump and Congress, as well as this new Alabama bill that

you probably heard about, trying to basically ban all abortions.


So we`re going to get into that with Senator Booker and a panel of experts

later tonight.  The whole showdown is over whether Roe V. Wade, as we know,

will stand.


Later, new signs that Donald Trump`s business empire is struggling because

of its association with the Trump name.  So we`ll get into all of that.


But we begin with the White House stonewalling congressional investigators

today and laying out opposition to really basic requests for evidence and

documents.  This is a sweeping new letter that I`m going to show you from

the White House.


It shows Donald Trump is defying the House Judiciary Committee`s basic

oversight request and claiming that Congress should not investigate.  Kind

of an attempt to rewrite the Constitution.


Now, the man who replaced Bob Mueller`s star witness, Don McGahn, is

basically firing off this letter, here it is, to Chairman Jerry Nadler,

telling him how to do his job and claiming the appropriate course here

would be for members of Congress to discontinue the entire inquiry.


And there`s also a bit of a Trumpian tone here.  As the letter says that

these probes which, of course, have only begun under Democrats in the past

few months, already in the view of the Trump White House, exceed Congress`

authority and they amount to harassing opponents and pursuing a do-over of

the Mueller probe.


The White House is also referencing a potential executive privilege claim

without actually stating whether they`re going to do it.  Chairman Nadler

fired back today.





is making the outrageous claim that a president cannot be held accountable

in any way to the American people.  We will subpoena whoever we have to

subpoena.  We will hear from Mueller.  We will hear from McGahn.  We will

hear from a lot of other witnesses.




MELBER:  Some of this may sound familiar.  Some of it may be exhausting but

that`s kind of what the Trump White House is betting on.  The people will

get exhausted and move on.


The battle line here is quite important.  It`s whether in the United

States, lawfully executed subpoenas from the U.S. House of Representative

are going to mean something or not.  Meanwhile, Donald Trump`s Treasury

secretary is hinting today that he may defy relatedly a different subpoena,

this one over the president`s infamously hidden tax returns.




REPORTER:  How do you plan to respond to Chairman Nadler`s subpoenas?


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY:  Well, we haven`t had an official

response yet.  I think we have a few more days.  We will comply with the

timing of it and I think you can pretty much guess how we`re going to but

we haven`t made a decision.




MELBER:  The key here is to separate the bluster from the action.  Because

the congressional pressure in other ways is already working despite the

bluster that you also hear from this White House.


Consider that the president`s own family member, Donald Trump Jr., has now

backed down from his attempt at a subpoena war.  He`s agreed this week to

testify.  And the Democratic senator who was part of that winning battle

saying today, there are no compromises in the testimonial plan for that





REPORTER:  Senator, are you happy with the scope of the agreement with Don



SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA):  We`ve made no compromises with any of our

witnesses.  Anyone that was reporting otherwise ain`t telling the truth.


REPORTER:  Is there anything that`s off limit during this interview with

Don Jr.?


WARNER:  We`ve made with all witnesses – with all the witnesses, we have

not set parameters.




MELBER:  I am joined on all of this by former U.S. Senator Robert

Torricelli.  Our New Jersey Senator caution is high tonight with you.




MELBER:  And Cory Booker later.  And, Mara Gay, a “New York Time`s”

editorial board member.


Mara, what strikes you as important, distinguishing between all of the

noise and the fact that some of these investigations are proceeding and

they are apparently working at least getting witnesses in?



what you`re seeing is that the Democrats have actually been disciplined for

once.  They had a strategy which to go full-court press on these subpoenas,

to not let up, and it`s actually working.  So I think if I were Nancy

Pelosi, I would be feeling pretty good about myself today.


MELBER:  And yet Senator, you are here because of your distinguished

experience.  Most people haven`t been in the rooms you`ve been as a U.S.



But I`m also going to hold it against you a little bit because as you may

know, there are a lot of people, particularly in your party, who are

frustrated with the way that the party elites and senators and ex-senators

are acting.


And I`m going to give you an example for your pushback, for your analysis,

sir.  Chairman Nadler said last week it is a constitutional crisis and the

speaker echoed that.  And then today, he says but let me take off the

table, it`s very unlikely, that we would even consider moving towards

impeachment.  Take a look.




NADLER:  It depends what comes out and what we learn.  It depends where the

American people are, whether they want to go that way or not.  I don`t want

to make it sound as if we`re heading for impeachment.  Probably we`re not.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you really believe that?  Probably we`re not?


NADLER:  Probably but I don`t know.




MELBER:  Is that the right substantive answer now?


TORRICELLI:  So I`m going to frustrate you because the lawyer in me and the

politician in me have kind of two different answers here.


MELBER:  It sounds like you`re frustrating yourself.


TORRICELLI:  I am.  You know there`s a reason why this government has

lasted 240 years, unlike every other nation on earth.  And it is the

founding principles of this Constitution.


You simply cannot maintain democratic government in the United States if

the Congress of the United States cannot exercise oversight and bring a

cabinet official to answer before the Congress.  This government will not



So the issue of bringing the attorney general forward is, to me,

uncompromising.  The politician in me says I understand everything that

Congress is doing.  I could not be more sympathetic but it is the remedy.


The remedy for all this is, the party must win in 2020.  So if I were Nancy

Pelosi, I would bring these chairs together and say here`s what we will

pursue publicly because we have a responsibility to the country and the

Constitution.  Here`s what we will not.  Here`s what we will do silently

through the courts.


We want the American people to get the message we`re defending the

Constitution but also that their needs are our priority.


MELBER:  So let`s lay it out.  This is – they called you the torch.  So

this is the torch test for you and then Mara.  If you let stand multiple

obstruction crimes in office, for those who believe that there`s

substantial evidence to that, Mueller among them, what precedent does that



In other words, wouldn`t it be better if the Democrats` view was they

didn`t meet the bar on impeachable offenses, didn`t say that deal with the

heat and move forward?  But what I`m hearing from – more them than you,

but I think a little bit from you if I`m not mistaken is, we need to win in

2020 so we`re going to put aside this substantive constitutional question

of whether this type of conduct will stand?


TORRICELLI:  Well, but there`s a conduct I would suggest to you cannot

stand.  I mean even if it jeopardized the 2020 election, you can`t change

the fundamentals of American government, that the Congress does not do

oversight at the executive.  Or we will lose control of executive power and

no longer have a democratic government.


That is uncompromising even if it means 2020.  What I disagree on is I

think the obstruction issue was lost in the Mueller report.  He did not

make a case for it suggesting it, hinting at it, saying there might be

evidence of it, did not, in my opinion, fulfill his responsibilities.


MELBER:  You would have wanted him to say, while we can`t formally indict

the president, he did things that are indictable, period.


TORRICELLI:  Either he did or he did not.  This idea well, I can`t tell you

because you can`t indict a president, no one said you`d have to conclude

whether we`re going to indict a president.  You were asked to conclude, to

do an investigation.


The proper answer was there is evidence or there is not.  In my opinion as

a lawyer, I don`t think there is.  But in any case, we can`t spend the next

two years litigating it.  We got to get on and win election.


MELBER:  And you could respond to the Lawyer Torricelli or the politician

Torricelli, whatever you choose.


GAY:  Well, I would just say that members of Congress don`t need Bob

Mueller to tell them whether the offenses laid out or the behavior laid out

in that report are impeachable – is impeachable.  And that`s because it`s

actually up to Congress because this is a political question, that`s not a

legal question.


MELBER:  I agree with that.


GAY:  Right, right.  And so certain behavior is just not acceptable for an

American president.  And that`s for Congress and the American people.


MELBER:  So how much do you think this comes down to the actual leadership

style and guts of these political figures?  And not what we get – what we

just maybe get lost in is all the other stuff.


Because the Republicans – what everyone thinks of the Ken Starr history,

the Republicans clearly knew when the report came out what they want to do. 

And to your point, they exercised their judgment because they released it

and moved toward what they wanted to do immediately.


GAY:  Yes.  I mean I think the central question – and I haven`t seen all

of the polling I`m sure that folks like Nancy Pelosi have.  But the central

question politically is, can the Democrats win if they move forward with

impeachment?  Can they win in 2020?


And it seems to be the prevailing view among senior Democrats that they

cannot.  I`m not entirely convinced that that`s the case.  Especially

because the American public is so deeply polarized.  There are so few

voters in between who the Democrats are going to be fighting for.


But I don`t know and I`m not sure that that`s – that that presents – in

other words, just because you`re going to lose an election doesn`t mean

that you don`t have a job to do right now.  The Democrats are in a tough

spot.  I completely agree with you but they have to fulfill their duty to

the American people.


And a majority of Americans are not with this president.  So it does kind

of beg the question, what are they holding out for?


TORRICELLI:  Well, in my experience, other than people like us, you get

about five minutes of the American people`s attention every day.  With us,

it is about 24 hours.  Most Americans, you get about five minutes.


What I don`t want is a year from now that after watching for five minutes a

day, the American people are convinced that Donald Trump for border

securities, for confronting Chinese trade practices, he`s for dealing with

Iran, he`s for dealing with a strong economy, and Democrats are for

impeachment and subpoenas.


I wouldn`t compromise for a minute as I made clear on constitutional

responsibilities.  But unless Nancy gets some discipline among those

chairs, we run that risk.  And the remedy, winning an election is lost.


GAY:  I think there`s a way to walk and chew gum at the same time.


TORRICELLI:  It can be.


GAY:  But that`s a very hard line to walk.


TORRICELLI:  It`s discipline.


MELBER:  What`s interesting here, you`re criticizing Mueller.  Are you

going to make a 2020 endorsement?  Are you endorsing your home state



TORRICELLI:  If I would have vote today, I would, of course, vote for Cory

but I like a lot of them.  We are blessed with a strong –


MELBER:  Who else do you like?  Cory, you have a home field bond with.


TORRICELLI:  Do you know what really makes me feel good about the races is

that one candidate who has done the most homework, done the most work, take

the most detailed positions, Elizabeth Warren has been rising.  I love to

see voters reward someone who is doing it right.


MELBER:  Do you think she`s – in your political view, is you think she`s

rising partly on the agenda because she, every week, is showing the voters

exactly why she`s running.


TORRICELLI:  Because she`s been serious about it.


MELBER:  Interesting.  I won`t ask you for an endorsement as a reporter. 

Senator Torricelli and Mara Gay, thanks to both of you.


Now coming up as mentioned, Cory Booker is here at 30 Rock.  We`re going to

get into it.  The Supreme Court and, of course, these questions on



Here are the 25 men behind this new controversial bill banning most

abortions.  I could tell you, as of tonight, it was signed into law just

moments ago.  Protests across the country, concerns about whether Roe will

stand.  We`re going to go live to Alabama this hour.


Plus, later, new evidence that the Trump presidency might actually be

undermining the Trump brand.  I`m Ari Melber.  You`re watching THE BEAT on





MELBER:  Breaking news, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has just signed a bill

effectively banning abortions across the entire state.  This is the

strictest abortion law now in the nation, near-total ban, no exceptions for

rape or incest.


It also criminalizes performance of this procedure by doctors.  They could

even face up to 99 years in prison under the way it`s written.  The

sponsors openly say the idea is to get this in front of the Supreme Court

to overturn Roe.


Now, I just sat down with Senator Cory Booker.  We turn to that interview



I saw today, you said it is important for men to have this conversation. 

What do you mean?



conversation.  It is important for men to lead on this issue with women

because this is an assault on human rights.  This is an assault on the

basic fundamental ideal that you can control your own body.


And we know from Alabama`s letters from a Birmingham jail by Martin Luther

King, where he said very pointedly, that injustice anywhere is a threat to

justice everywhere.  Well, this is that case.


And this should be, and I think those of us who are running for president,

has a chance to affect the national conversation.  But all men, we need to

lead on this issue with women and demand that people get off the sidelines. 

This is an existential fight for the right and liberty to control your own

body, your economic freedom, to be able to make your own reproductive



MELBER:  And this was a central issue in the fight you and your colleagues

waged over Brett Kavanagh.  Take a look at the way he spoke about Roe

during those hearings.






BRETT KAVANAUGH:  Senator, Roe V. Wade is an important precedent of the

Supreme Court.  It is an important precedent of the Supreme Court and

reaffirmed many times, precedent on precedent, which is an important

precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times.




MELBER:  Do you view his statements as a commitment to strike down this

law?  If it becomes law in Alabama?


BOOKER:  President Trump said point blank, I will put people on the court

who will overturn Roe V. Wade.  Nothing he said there convinced me that

that was not the intent.  And part of the –


MELBER:  Since you`re mentioning receipts, let`s play them for your point

because this is central to the fight.  Is this the goal or not?  Let`s look

at it, as you say, what Donald Trump promised.




Do you want to see the court overturn Roe V. Wade?



or perhaps three justices on, that`s really what`s going to happen.  And

that will happen automatically in my opinion because I am putting pro-life

justices on the court.




BOOKER:  So when somebody tells who they are and what they`re going to do,

believe what they say.  And this is one of those instances where he`s now

put two or three justices in the court that I think the states are now

seeing this as an opportunity to try to move these to the courts.


But we are not helpless in this fight in the face of extreme injustice.  We

must organize and we must do the kind of things that New York did which was

enshrining Roe V. Wade, kind of fought that in law.  And we could actually

do that in Congress by passing a bill that protects women`s reproductive

rights and make that the federal law of the land.


MELBER:  I understand the genuine earnest care you have with this issue. 

You are also running for president and there`s politics here.  The Supreme

Court did use this to overturn Roe before the presidential campaign.  Do

you think that would help the Democratic nominee, whoever it would be?


BOOKER:  There are issues that I will not look at through a lens,

regardless of what I was doing.  I think we all have an obligation on this

one to just think very fundamentally.  Does a woman have the right to

control her body or do politicians have to dictate to her?


Do you know how extreme this is?  It literally says in the cases of rape

and incest, that a woman, it is still illegal for a doctor to perform an

abortion.  And so this is outrageous.  This is an assault on human rights,

human dignity, freedom to control your body, which has been a fight going

on from the founding of this country.


And I cannot in any way sit comfortably while this is going on.  And this

is a time in American history that mandates all of us to stand up and get

involved in this fight.


MELBER:  Yes, it is extraordinary to see and obviously, one of the biggest

stories of not only today but potentially this year or this era if it is

something the Supreme Court wants to weigh in on.


What I want to do is fit in a quick break but have you stay.  Would you

stay with us?


BOOKER:  Yes, I want to talk a little bit about how these issues are all



MELBER:  Great.  And I want to ask you about some of your comments on Barr

and Mueller and a lot more.  So what we`re going to do is do just a 30-

second break.  And when I come back, more with U.S. Senator and

Presidential Candidate Cory Booker.




MELBER:  And I am back, as promised, with U.S. Senator Cory Booker running

for president.  I want to continue our conversation but also bring in some

other items first, which is you have been clashing with Attorney General

Barr.  He now has said there`s going to be another review of the origins of

the Mueller probe.


In your view, is it possible that that could be productive?  Or is that a

bad idea to begin with?


BOOKER:  You know this is somebody who has lost credibility in his position

and I`ve called him to resign.  He`s been acting more like Donald Trump`s

personal lawyer, more like a Rudy Giuliani than the independent head of the

Department of Justice.


And what frustrates me is that anybody who takes a fair reading of that

report with its redactions sees misconduct rife within this administration. 

Literally, lies and deceits, even ordering Don McGahn to try to manufacture

evidence to cover up what could be a trail of towards obstruction.


Even on the election side, you have a state adversary, a foreign adversary

who is literally breaking the law, attacking our election systems, and they

greeted that with seemingly glee and a willingness to do things that even

my colleagues have said they would resolve.


MELBER:  So let me ask you this.




MELBER:  Did Donald Trump obstruct justice?


BOOKER:  I think what we need to do right now is answer that question and

there is a process in doing it.  And that means we should get the

unredacted report.  Mueller should be coming before the Senate Judiciary

Hearing in open hearings and we should look at the underlying



MELBER:  Based on what is public though, do you have a view that that looks

likely or unlikely?  As you know, there are other people in this race,

other talented lawyers like yourself who said yes.


BOOKER:  I believe right now I have a job to do.  And that should be to

continue the investigation.  That`s the responsible way to do it.  And when

you have a –


MELBER:  Let me press you on that.




MELBER:  Because you`re so smart.  I worry that you`re using your

intelligence to move us away.  You just said you have an investigation to

do.  But as you know, when we go look at the Constitution, it says the

investigation is done and you are actually in the position of the Congress

making a judgment.  You are the decider because we Don`t indict sitting



So when would you be able to decide?  The Mueller report is long, it`s

detailed, and many scholars have said it shows criminal intent by the

president.  Or do you just think it does?


BOOKER:  No, no.  First of all, if you really want to get specific, I have

a role in the United States Senate which is the jury after impeachment has

been passed by the House, articles of impeachment passed by the House.


So right now, you have Nancy Pelosi saying let`s continue this

investigation and go where the facts lead us.  And then if they pass

articles of impeachment that the Senate sits in as a jury.


MELBER:  So you`re comfortable just waiting on that?  If the House doesn`t

impeach, that`s it?


BOOKER:  I think the Senate Judiciary Committee has a role and a

responsibility.  Right now for Barr not to even be cooperating with the

House`s documentation, subpoenas, this is a real problem.


We have a constitutional conflict right now that I think actually will be

going over to the courts.  But for me, this is not a time for politics. 

It`s a time for sobered examination of the facts.


MELBER:  Copy.


BOOKER:  And continue to go there.


MELBER:  I want to get you on some other items while I have you.




MELBER:  We have seen gun deaths reach a multi-decade high last year. 

You`ve spoken out about that, not only in terms of gun control but

suicides, the guns.  Why is that an important part of this for you?  How do

you fix it?


BOOKER:  You have to understand that to live in an inner city black and

brown community where I literally have shootings in my neighborhood – last

week, someone killed with an assault rifle on my block.  When you say we`ve

reached a decade`s high in our lifetime, we`ve had more people die from gun

violence in this country than all of our wars, revolutionary war, through

world wars, through North Korea, through Vietnam, combined.


And suicides, every day we have about a hundred people murdered.  It`s

about a two to one suicide to homicide.  And we`re not giving enough focus

to suicide deaths in this country.  And still have this almost a

resignation that again we are helpless to stop them and that`s just not



MELBER:  And you think those are people, some of them if they had the help

and not the ready access to a weapon, that might be a life saved.


BOOKER:  Exactly.  And we know that again from the data and the evidence on

states that have taken action to try to make sure we are cutting those

deaths.  And that means everything from taking people at high risk for

suicide and suspending the rights to have weapons during a limited period

of time with due process.


It needs things as simple as having safe storage laws so that those guns

are easily accessible, a family gun isn`t easily accessible by a young

person who wants to commit suicide.


MELBER:  Yes.  And it is such an important issue and one we want to track,

how these candidates are dealing with it.  It is one of the great security

challenges and life challenges in America right now.


Now, before I let you go, I want to hit with you the lightning round.




MELBER:  Fast answers, one word when possible.




MELBER:  And other candidates – yes, we made that just for you.  Other

candidates have done this.


BOOKER:  OK.  I`m afraid – with you, I`m afraid.


MELBER:  Your dream running mate, living or dead.


BOOKER:  I will not answer that question.


MELBER:  It could be someone who`s no longer with us.  Elizabeth Warren

answered it at this table.  She said Teddy Roosevelt.


BOOKER:  At this table, she said her dream candidate was to resurrect the



MELBER:  She didn`t put it like that.


BOOKER:  I`ve watched too much sci-fi to know.  Even everybody –


MELBER:  She didn`t say that.


BOOKER:  If you watch Pet Cemetery, where you`re going is dangerous

territory.  Don`t do it.  You watch a movie in my neighborhood.  We`re

yelling at the screen.  Don`t do it.


MELBER:  So you`re passing.


BOOKER:  I am going to press the pass button but you will find out when I`m

the nominee of my party –




BOOKER:  – who my running mate is.


MELBER:  When you need to chill, your favorite T.V. show or Netflix?


BOOKER:  I am a sci-fi addict.  I will watch even reruns of good sci-fi if

I have to.


MELBER:  Like?


BOOKER:  I am trying to give you the most – I am embarrassed to tell you

what I had the other night that I turned to a series.  How do you get me to

admit this?  The series is Supernatural.  Yes, it`s sort of sci-fi hard-ish

which is the reason why I say please don`t resurrect.


MELBER:  Are you more Star Wars or Star Trek?


BOOKER:  I am a sci-fi person.  If you`re forcing me to choose and to stand

in one universe, I will stand in the Star Trek universe.


MELBER:  I would – I could buy that with you.




MELBER:  Yes.  Star Trek is – I don`t know if I`m going on make a huge





MELBER:  Nerdier?


BOOKER:  I think – look, maybe I`ll just say that the people I respect

from Cisco to Picard, great ball leaders in the future.


MELBER:  Amazing.  If we open just Spotify, what would be the most played?


BOOKER:  Right now, I am stuck in a loop of, a little bit old but Chance

the Rapper.  I`m just You`ve Got a Problem With Me?  I`ve been listening to

that.  I`ve been hyper-listening. I don`t know why that`s speaking to me

right now but this music –


MELBER:  It`s speaking to you because you feel like if one more label tries

to stop you?


BOOKER:  I don`t have the dread head there to meet you in the lobby.  But

this morning, I woke up, and I have a great list.  I should make it public,

gospel.  I just love gospel.


MELBER:  We`d love to hear that.  I would love for every candidate to put

out their list.  When you`re working out, the music that pumps you up.


BOOKER:  I actually will listen to lots of different things.  I actually

have – Spotify makes this for runs.  Spotify makes this for weightlifting

and they range everywhere from gospel to hip hop to – I`ll admit it.  I –

Les Mis.  I`ve got some –.


MELBER:  I could see you with the Les Mis.  You`re a renaissance man.  One

word answers on some people and then we`re done.




MELBER:  Bill Barr.


BOOKER:  Resign.


MELBER:  Lindsey Graham.


BOOKER:  Praying for him.


MELBER:  Bob Mueller.


BOOKER:  Come before Congress.


MELBER:  Joe Biden.


BOOKER:  National servant.


MELBER:  Elizabeth Warren.


BOOKER:  Great partner and ally on my favorite legislate – some of my

favorite legislation.


MELBER:  Donald Trump.


BOOKER:  One term.


MELBER:  Senator Cory Booker, always great to have you on THE BEAT.


BOOKER:  Thank you.


MELBER:  Hope you come back.


And up ahead, a Trump Organization making quite the admission, their

problem is Trump.


But first, a lot more.  I was just discussing with the senator, this new

threat against Roe V. Wade, an anti-abortion bill in Alabama.  We go live

to Alabama with a lawmaker and several pro-choice experts next.




ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  News breaking this hour.  Alabama Governor Kay

Ivey signing this bill that effectively bans abortions statewide.  It is

now law.  As we were just discussing with Senator Booker, Roe v Wade under

fire here.  This fight could go right to the Supreme Court which has new

members appointed by Donald Trump.


There are these protests that we`re seeing for what would now be this total

ban on abortion, no exceptions for rape or incest unless the courts

intercede.  This law is also controversial because it would put doctors in

jail for up to 99 years depending on how it`s enforced.  Alabama

Republicans have said their motivation is to overturn Roe v Wade.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What this bill is designed to do is to go to the

Supreme Court and challenge that particular precedence.


REP. TERRI COLLINS (R-AL):  My goal with this bill and I think all of our

goal is to have Roe versus Wade defeat – turned over.




MELBER:  The governor says the sponsors of the bill believe it is time once

again for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this matter and that this may

bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.  That`s a new statement

we got just this hour.  And this is something a lot of people are noticing. 

We wanted to show you the 25 male senators, all 25 votes cast in favor from

who you see up on your screen.  That`s who`s making this set of decisions.


Now, one of those senators got into it with a colleague who happen to be

female challenging him over a provision in this bill that states that a

woman could end her pregnancy as long as she doesn`t know that she is





SEN. CLYDE CHAMBLISS (R-AL):  And I`m not trained medically so I don`t know

all the proper medical terminology.  There`s some period of time before you

can know that a woman is pregnant.


SEN. LINDA-COLEMAN-MADISON (D-AL):  How do you define “is known?”


How do I define?


LINDA-COLEMAN:  It`s in the bill.


Well, if you don`t know, then you`re not known to be pregnant.


LINDA-COLEMAN:  I guess that`s the typical male answer.  You don`t know

what you don`t know because you`ve never been pregnant.  You can`t get

pregnant.  You`ve never been pregnant.  You don`t know what it`s like to be





MELBER:  That was a debate.  What I can tell you as of this hour is this

bill is now law, state law.  Today, several Democratic candidates for

president speaking out.





of an attack on women`s basic human rights and civil rights.



under attack and we will not stand for it.



Alabama, what they did in Georgia is unconstitutional.



overturn Roe versus Wade.  That`s wrong and we will fight back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I mean, do you think they`ll succeed in this?




MELBER:  I`m now joined tonight for our special coverage by Alabama State

Senator Vivian Figures who was one of his six individuals and one of two

women who voted against this bill last night, Ilyse Hogue who is President

of NARAL Pro-Choice America, as well as Reporter Laura Bassett.  Thanks to

each of you for being a part of this discussion.


I suppose we should start with what does this mean for Alabama today?  What

just changed for individuals there?  To Vivian.


SEN. VIVIAN FIGURES (D-AL):  Well, OK, thank you.  Thank you for inviting

me to be on your show.  Let me say first of all that I reached out to

Governor Ivey today.  I called her office, left her a message saying that I

wanted her to put an executive amendment on that bill.  She could have done

that, at least the amendment dealing with the exceptions for rape and



She did not call me back.  I put it in writing and had it hand-delivered to

her office.  She did receive that message and she received that letter

before she signed that bill.  So she a woman could have put that amendment

on that bill at least.


That bill is full of ambiguity.  There are so many – there are so many

questions in that deal in terms of what does it really mean for doctors,

doctors who are OBGYNs in Alabama who don`t do abortions but who may do a

procedure that would be considered getting rid of a fetus or whatever.  So

it`s going to be a lot of problems down the road.


MELBER:  And when you look at this, what happens now?  If no court

intervenes, then what happens to any individual Alabama who might want to

have this procedure?


FIGURES:  Well, first of all, the bill does not go into effect until six

months from today.  So what will happen then, how they will enforce it, I

do not know.


MELBER:  Ilyse?  Same question.



seeing these bills, bans sweep the country.  And I think they all have a

singular goal, Ari, and that is to gut Row and criminalize abortion.


What I find really ironic and the familiar feeling as a woman of being

gaslighted is not six months ago we were being told we were hysterical for

suggesting Roe was vulnerable during the Kavanaugh nomination, and yet you

have the Lieutenant Governor of Alabama actually saying it`s because of the

justices that Trump has put on the court that they are actually trying to

overturn Roe and criminalize abortion nationwide.


It will certainly be sued.  It will have to go to the Supreme Court.  But

right now, Ari, the most important thing is that they have awakened a nest

of energy and activity, unlike anything we have ever seen before.  My phone

is going nuts.  People wanting to know how to get involved.  They

understand that while the pointy end of the stick today is Alabama, that

this is all of us.  We are all in this together.


And so we`re organizing because there are actually more people that believe

in reproductive freedom and justice in this country then there are the

people like the 25 male senators in Alabama that voted in favor of

controlling women, punishing us, and putting our health in danger.


And we`re going to organize our folks.  We actually just launched where we`ll be unfolding, organizing plans, nationally

distributed actions over the next week.  So please go to

and signup to get more information.


I think we`re –


FIGURES:  Let us not forget – let us not forget –


MELBER:  Well, Vivian, let me – Vivian, let me do this.


FIGURES:  I`m sorry?


MELBER:  I was just going to say, let me bring in Laura and then go back to

you.  I`m conducting here, so first Laura and then back to Vivian.


FIGURES:  I`m sorry.


LAURA BASSETT, FREELANCE JOURNALIST:  It`s just amazing to me.  We`re going

back to the – to the 60s.  I mean, we used to be in this place in this

country where abortion was illegal and women did go over the border to

Mexico.  They did have unsafe procedures.


And I`ve reported in Kenya and I`ve reported in Ireland and I`ve reported

all around the world in places where abortion is illegal even in cases of

rape and incest.  I talked to a 16-year-old rape survivor in Kenya who had

to have an unsafe abortion and she nearly died.  And her father had to sell

all of his cows in order to pay for her emergency medical procedure, and

then she couldn`t finish high school.


So this is happening already around the world and we are now going back. 

Some states are trying to go back to a place where it was just a lot more

dangerous for women.  They call themselves the pro-life movement but what

these policies do is they literally kill women.


And so I think that Alabama is just the first, Louisiana is moving a bill

today, Georgia, Ohio.  We`re going to start to see a wave of these. 

Republicans are emboldened under Trump and under a Kavanaugh Supreme Court. 

And I think that the election is going to be a referendum on how people

really feel about that.


MELBER:  Vivian?


FIGURES:  Yes, I just wanted to say let us not forget, these are not just

men who are doing this to two women.  There are women who are involved in

this as well.  It was a woman who sponsored that bill Terri Collins out of

the House of Representatives in Alabama.  It was the other four to five

Republican women in the house who signed on as co-sponsors.


And this is not a Democratic or Republican thing.  I had people calling me

from all over who were Democrats, Republicans, black, white, men, and

women.  But I agree with the other panelists that this has just opened up a

firestorm of energy for women and men who want to get involved and see that

a change needs to be made in electing people into these offices who have

more of a heart to listen to women and to fight for our bodies not being a

part of the laws.


Because there`s no law on the book that says a man is mandated to do

anything with his body and it shouldn`t be for a woman either.


MELBER:  And you put that very forthrightly.  You`re also putting it in a

way that reflects a lot of the understanding of what many people have said

looks like an unfair approach even before you get to the fact that it would

appear, what`s happening in your state would appear to violate obviously

the current precedent that does protect this choice by women.


Ilyse, with all of that in context, let`s look at where this all came from

in the current presidency because it was Donald Trump who didn`t reflect

that level of understanding.  It made a very famous set of statements that

even he walked back when he said, oh well, not only would you want to

criminalize this and make it illegal, but you would want to criminalize it

to the degree that women would be punished.  Take a look.



to be some form of punishment.




TRUMP:  Yes.  There has to be some form –


MATTHEWS:  A fine, imprisonment for young woman who finds herself pregnant?


TRUMP:  It would have to be determined.


MATTHEWS:  What about the guy that gets her pregnant?  Is he responsible

under the law for these abortions or is he not responsible for an abortion



TRUMP:  It hasn`t – it hasn`t – different feeling, different people.  I

would say no.




MELBER:  Ilyse – and just for viewers before I go to your analysis, I just

want to remind everyone that remarkable statement, we`ll put on the screen,

Donald Trump had to walk away from it during the campaign.  He said oh, I

didn`t even mean that.  But what do you think it means to see Alabama

teeing this up for the Supreme Court with Trump`s nominees now, judges.


HOGUE:  Yes.  I think Trump was – you know, I always say out of the mouths

of babes, right.  He didn`t come from the anti-choice movement so he wasn`t

versed in their signal talking and where they know they`ve stepped over the

line.  So he may walk it back in words but he certainly hasn`t walked it

back in deeds.


And that spirit with which he brought about punishing women, we`re seeing

lived out on the national stage now with jail time being put in place in

several of these bands.  And one of the things that I find really sinister

about what we`re seeing in the anti-choice movement in the last several

years epitomized by Trump is that we`ve moved from an anti-choice movement

that sort of views women as victims which was already horrible enough

especially in the ends that they were using but to women as perpetrators.


And that gives you an insight into not what is just Trump`s mentality but

what is driving these people which is that women are to be you know, we`re

suspicious and that we do not deserve the right to be in control of our own

bodies and our own lives.  And the only unfortunate thing is they`re in the

minority.  It`s a radical minority.  They`re about to learn just how in the

minority they are.


And part of the reason that they`re going for broke with bills like Georgia

and Alabama is because they know they`re on the wrong side of politics on

this.  And we will show them that really clearly in the coming days, in the

coming weeks, but all the way through 2020.


MELBER:  Well, and Laura, speak to that because Ilyse is talking about the

public views and as Vivian just mentioned, there are certainly views in

both parties, are certainly women who we just heard are part of fighting

for this in Alabama, although they are the minority.


BASSETT:  Right.


MELBER:  Look at – when you break down the polling very generally, and you

ask folks, should this be legal in some circumstances.  When you put it

that way, Gallup nonpartisan, it`s overwhelming.  It`s not 50-50 issue

there, it`s 80-20.  What does that tell you about Ilyse`s point about the

strategy here which is if anything running headlong into that public

opinion and seeking refuge in potentially a Supreme Court stalked by Donald



BASSETT:  Right.  I mean, we forget that Republicans have tried this,

right, like they started doing these personhood laws proposing them in

2012.  Mississippi rejected one, Colorado voters rejected one, it was

decided that these were too extreme.  The Governor of Ohio vetoed a similar

heartbeat bill to the one that`s passing now deciding it was too extreme,

and then voters overwhelmingly re-elected Barack Obama with a massive

gender gap, the biggest one that had ever happened.


And I think that was in part a big reaction to the big wave of abortion

restrictions we were seeing in the states after the Tea Party took over. 

And so things changed a little bit in 2016, but I think now we`re sort of

going back to this aggressive anti-abortion stance on the – on the part of

Republicans.  People don`t want to see all-out bans on abortion

particularly without exceptions for rape and incest.  It`s like a tiny

fraction of the country that would support something like this.


So Republicans going all in on this, even the – even the sponsor of the

Alabama bill said this isn`t even what I want for Alabama.  We`re just

trying to make this as extreme as possible to challenge Roe.  I don`t think

that`s a good election strategy and I think it is going to bite them next



MELBER:  Right.  And as you say, if there is one point of continuity here,

it is everyone in Alabama acknowledging effectively what was just passed,

what was just signing a lot tonight is not currently lawful under the

Supreme Court.  I mean that alone, whenever on any issue you have that as

the stated goal, you have to take obviously a very close look.


I want to thank a State Senator Vivian Figures for walking us through this,

given your knowledge the issue there on the ground, Ilyse Hogue, and Laura

Bassett, thanks to each of you.


BASSETT:  Thank you.


HOGUE:  Thank you.


FIGURES:  Thank you, Ari.


MELBER:  Coming up, a story I mentioned earlier in the hour.  Did you know

that the Trump Organization now says they have a problem which is why

they`re taking down signs like this, and the problem is the word Trump. 

We`ll explain next.




MELBER  The brand is not strong because for the first time a Trump

Organization representative is publicly admitting what many people have

thought that Donald Trump`s own name has become so toxic to so many people,

call them voters, or consumers, or whatever you want, but it`s hurting



Take a look at this.  Trump`s prized Doral Golf Resort in Florida in steep

decline as business problems mounting, the Washington Post noting.  In the

two years going into 2017, that resort far less profitable, operating

income fell 69 percent.  And this Trump Organization representative admits

that the resort is severely underperforming and they say that it is because

of “the negative connotation associated with the Trump brand.


This news comes as we learn the Trump Tower also is now ranked, and this is

a business thing not a political thing, as one of the least desirable so-

called luxury properties in all of Manhattan.  Bloomberg says the Trump

name became a problem, condo sales selling at more than a 20 percent loss. 

And then you have familiar sites like this.


The Trump name literally getting pulled, dragged, whatever you want to call

it, but removed from its plot – excuse me, prime place, I should say, atop

so many buildings.  So we can take a final fact check.  We dug up a quote

from Donald Trump who said “I lost massive amounts of money doing this job

as president.  This is one of the greatest loses of all time he said. 

Fact-check, true.


Now, before we go.  The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has some

new strong words about Donald Trump`s Attorney General and the Constitution

when we come back.




MELBER:  Today, the White House issued a sweeping refusal to turn over

documents to congressional investigators telling lawmakers they shouldn`t

be doing this investigation, saying maybe they don`t have oversight

authority to look at the President`s conduct.


Well, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler is hitting

back.  Here`s how he describes the showdown.




REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  They are refusing all subpoenas and they`re

telling private parties don`t give information to Congress.  They are

trying to say that Congress representing the American people can`t get

information and therefore can`t function.  The effect of that whether the

President realizes it or not, I don`t know, but the effect of that is to

make the president a monarch, to make him a dictator.  That is the biggest

constitutional crisis and that`s what we`ve got to fight.




MELBER:  Now, that may sound quite different from what Bill Barr has been

saying and Nadler has an explanation for that as well.  Take a look.




NADLER:  They welcomed it, they wanted it, and they tried – and they

coordinated with it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Despite Bill Barr saying over and over –


NADLER:  Bill Barr, he`s just a liar, and he`s just representing the





MELBER:  He`s just representing the President.  That is a concern we heard

more and more from not only Democrats, but legal experts that Mr. Barr is

acting more like a Rudy Giuliani at the Justice Department instead of like

someone who would independently run the Justice Department.  It`s a story

we will obviously keep our eye on.


Now, I want to tell you one more thing before I go.  Tomorrow on THE BEAT,

a programming note, we are thrilled to tell you, Sherrilyn Ifill will join

us to discuss why so many Trump judiciary nominees won`t say under oath

whether they even agree with Brown v Board that stopped racial segregation

in America.


Also on the program, a friend of THE BEAT, Tony Schwartz co-author of the

Art of the Deal back with us tomorrow 6:00 p.m. Easter as always.  That

does it for me.  But don`t go anywhere because “HARDBALL” –











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