Trump bails on meeting as Pelosi blasts him. TRANSCRIPT: 5/22/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Juanita Tolliver, Sheila Jackson Lee, David Corn, Neera Tanden

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  That`s it for tonight.  I will be back tomorrow


good to have you in Washington, Ari.  Welcome.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  It`s great to be here, Chuck.  Thank you very

much.  And good evening to everyone watching from home.  Here we are in

Washington on a wild day that continues to reverberate right now.


Let`s begin with a number.  Three.  It took exactly three minutes for the

president to storm out of a meeting with congressional leaders claiming he

could not discuss infrastructure policy unless Congress halted its work

overseeing the executive branch.


Democrats say Trump entered the room in full stunt mode, refusing to shake

any hands and then turned his very angry departure into a chance to lash

out in public going to the Rose Garden to release a live tweet storm,

vowing to essentially shut down the government until Democrats finished

their investigations.


Now, this clash is full of theater to be sure but it`s theater against a

substantive backdrop.  Democrats holding a hastily called meeting this

morning where Speaker Pelosi faced down party leaders asking her to begin

an impeachment probe.


Pelosi trying to provide in rhetorical offense what they currently lack in

action on the House floor, launching this accusation against the president.




REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  Would you believe that it

is important to follow the facts?  We believe that no one is above the law,

including the president of the United States, and we believe that the

president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.




MELBER:  A cover-up.  That is what Trump responded to during the three-

minute meeting.





happily into a meeting, I walk into looking at people that have just said

that I was doing a cover-up.  I don`t do cover-ups.




MELBER:  That is false.  What everyone thinks Congress should do or not do

with the Mueller report, it is a very serious evidentiary document.  And it

shows Donald Trump and his aides lying.


Sometimes in the form of felonies and obstruction like the cases of

Manafort, Flynn, and Papadopoulos and sometimes in ways that were not

charged like lies to cover-up the Russia dealings or Trump`s demand that

his lawyer, Don McGahn, lie about Trump`s potentially illegal attempt to

get Mueller fired.


Now, I mentioned that last line not as another example or just a fact

check.  I mentioned it because it is part of the core of today`s clash and

this Trump meltdown because it`s the White House`s defiance of lawful

subpoenas for McGahn`s testimony that has Democrats pushing harder for an

impeachment probe.


And that`s the context for what Trump did today, turning the Rose Garden

into a kind of a theater for a one-man shoe reenactment of Donald Trump`s

own greatest hits from his Twitter feed.




TRUMP:  I`m the most transparent president probably in the history of this

country.  This investigation or whatever you want to call it with Bob

Mueller, there was no collusion, there was no obstruction.


Jerry Nadler who has been an enemy of mine for many years.  This whole

thing was a takedown attempt at the president of the United States.




MELBER:  And then Trump quoted himself threatening Democrats.




TRUMP:  So I just wanted to let you know that I walked into the room and I

told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure.  I want

to do it more than you want to do it.  I would be really good at that. 

That`s what I do.


But you know what?  You cannot do it under these circumstances.  So get

these phony investigations over with.




MELBER:  Now, this was all orchestrated.  We can report that for you

tonight because the podium was literally decorated with planned talking



So as to saying, the poster you see there have been floating around the

White House for a while.  Trump also brought props and handouts which

Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer seized on.





was not a spontaneous move on the president`s part.  It was manned.  He

went to the Rose Garden with prepared signs that had been printed up long

before our meeting.




MELBER:  And we should note, Donald Trump has, of course, previously

threatened to also stop all work with Democrats if these investigations

continue.  And then he did back down with previous threats.


It is Speaker Pelosi`s investigations and her comments that clearly so

enraged Donald Trump and she may yet upset him again this new comment

wrapping up today`s entire weird, unusual, angry clash.




PELOSI:  He just took a pass and it just makes me wonder why he did that. 

In any event, I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for

the United States of America.




MELBER:  Praying for him.  Now, if Speaker Pelosi`s words got Trump so

livid, how will he take this news breaking late today as we come on air

that after their clash, after all this drama I just showed you, a big

victory for Pelosi`s strategy.


A judge ruling against Donald Trump and backing House Democrats` subpoena

for Donald Trump`s bank records.  And let`s be clear tonight, unlike Don

McGahn or Bill Barr, Trump has no power to stop banks from complying with

these lawful subpoenas for his financial secrets.


Even for the Trump era, I got to tell you, this was quite a day in

Washington.  If this day were a duet, the Pelosi Democrats sound like the

musician Vick Mensa who famously crooned, oh, you mad, huh?  Oh, you mad,



And Donald Trump sounds a bit like his favorite rapper on that same song,

Kanye West, who plaintively responds to Mr. Mensa, there go another

lawsuit, in court so much, man, I should have went to law school.


With me now, Heidi Przybyla, NBC News correspondent.  Eleanor Clift,

Washington correspondent for “The Daily Beast”.  And Juanita Tolliver,

campaign director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.


Do you think Donald is feeling a little bit like Kanye and wanting more

legal experience to deal with all this?



FUND:  I mean let`s be real, he has a full team ready to go.  I`m sure this

decision will be appealed just like the previous one related to his

accounting firm.


But this is ridiculous.  And I need us all to take a moment to lament the

fact that our commander in chief is throwing temper tantrums that

ultimately put Americans at peril.  American teammate promises too on the

campaign trail to move forward.


MELBER:  Now, let me ask you.  Do you think this was a tantrum or as

parents often say, a tanty?  Or do you think it was fake anger to distract?


TOLLIVER:  I think it was a little of both, right.  Like Pelosi`s words

definitely hit a nerve with him.  We know how he feels about being called

out in public.


But clearly it was planned, the podium, the handouts, everything.  He had

no intention of walking into that meeting and discussing infrastructure

today and that came through.



uncanny ability to get under Trump`s skin and he doesn`t know how to

respond.  He hasn`t even come up with a nickname for her.


And I think what he did today, he really enforced this, her strategy.  She

can tick off a number of wins that the Democrats are getting by moving

methodically through the courts.


And the president, as you said, he does not have control over the – well,

he does have control over some of the courts but not the ones that are

going to be deciding here.  And the fact that it was a set-up job, saying

that the Mueller probe costs $35 million.  In fact, it was $25 million and

the Treasury actually made a profit because of all of Paul Manafort`s

surrendered assets.


So I think the president really is on a losing course here.  And I think

Pelosi`s strategy has been bolstered at a time when she was really under

some stress from members of her caucus.  And she makes the point often that

the unity of the Democratic Caucus is her leverage.


And so keeping everybody together, it`s been – she`s done a masterful job. 

And she ticked off today at Center for American Progress Ideas` meeting,

all of the wins that each of the six committee chairmen have gotten.


They haven`t made the headlines and it`s to her eternal frustration that

the Democrats have actually passed legislation having to do with the

problems in this country from drug prices to gun violence.  And she did

blame the press a little bit saying we are obsessed with when impeachment

is going to start and we`re not paying attention to what`s happening.  And

we should be putting pressure –


MELBER:  Do you feel –


CLIFT:  – on Mitch McConnell.


MELBER:  Do you feel obsessed?


CLIFT:  I feel obsessed about pretty much everything these days.


TOLLIVER:  Very Mariah Carey.


CLIFT:  But I think it`s – she said it is fine to internally strategize. 

But the Democrats need outside mobilization and they need to put the

spotlight and the heat on Mitch McConnell who is the one man he calls

himself the grim reaper.


He is blocking all of this legislation.  So it would be nice to pay a

little attention to that as well.


HIEDI PRZYBYLA, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS:  This is going to play into her

strategy because just hours before that, there is a real disagreement and a

growing number of Democrats, it`s not just Progressives, Ari.  If you paid

attention to what the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said a

couple of days ago, he was also sounding like he was ready to go to the

impeachment inquiry lane as well.


And this morning, the members laid out their arguments on both sides.  And

then you had the tantrum and you had these two court rulings because this

was the second court ruling this week that was in favor of Democrats



She`s been saying this past of couple weeks to these restless Democrats,

please, will you please wait and let the court process work its will and we

will have victories.  And the Democrats who have been restive about this

have that, no, we can`t wait, that`s going to take years.


Well, we`re seeing now that actually some of these are moving pretty

quickly.  And so I think she`s able to hold the line in terms of the

defections growing to a critical mass at this point.


And as far as the tantrum goes, well, he`s now written his name on whatever

lack of progress there is on legislative goals.  But to your point in the

opener, this was all choreographed.


And it was not just choreographed from this morning when the president went

off in a tweetstorm.  It has been actually choreographed from a couple of

days ago when the president himself said that infrastructure was not his

priority.  He was really frustrated by the fact that he himself couldn`t

find out how to pay for his own plan and that he wanted to focus on NAFTA.


So like Nancy Pelosi said, he was looking for some kind of an out on

infrastructure and this was convenient timing as well.


MELBER:  Yes.  And you know how they say like no spoilers.  So no spoilers

for the rest of the Trump era however long it last but he doesn`t have that

many moves.  And I`m going to take my ball and go home and not do anything.


Or if you want to put it substantively, take the governing process hostage

and hurt the American people and the citizens and everyone who relies on

the government to do certain things.  Is one of his moves that he tries out

and folds on?  Take a look at him right after the election.




REPORTER:  Do you expect that when the Democrats take over the chairmanship

of all these important committees, you`re going to get hit with a blizzard

of subpoenas on everything from the Russian investigation to your cell

phone use to your tax returns?


TRUMP:  Then you`re going to – if that happens, then we`re going to do the

same thing and government comes to a halt.




MELBER:  Government comes to a halt.


TOLLIVER:  And this is something that we`ve seen Senate Republicans already

have a strong negative reaction to.  Senator Graham was saying, we need

leadership, the country needs leadership right now.


And so they`re really trying to send that signal to Trump, don`t do this. 

You`re going to throw everybody under the bus right now.  And honestly,

this could be a pivot point where you see Senate Republicans come out

against him even further.


PRZYBYLA:  The timing also.  I`m sorry, it`s just ironic.  We`re talking

about another spending knock down drag out fight that`s going to have to be

resolved by September.


And, of course, the parallel here is the shutdown previously which the

president also said I`ll take responsibility for the shutdown and that

didn`t work out too well.  So here we are in another scenario where they

actually need to talk and work together in order to keep the government



TOLLIVER: (CROSSTALK) America`s loss.


CLIFT:  It is obvious, he`s the one who is the obstructer now.




CLIFT:  He just took ownership.


MELBER:  You see him as the obstructer.  And also, I wonder if this cuts

against one of the conventional wisdom – articles of conventional wisdom

we hear so much in this town which is oh, you`ve got to get people down to

the table.  And the “good old days” when everyone hung out together.


And I think there is room for that when both sides want to operate in good

faith and that is a great thing with that as a prerequisite.  When you

don`t have good faith, going to the table is not only a waste of time

because it was a lot more than three minutes to get there and do this and



But it also would seem to undercut the substance.  Reading from the “New

York Times” coverage for your analysis, Eleanor, they said Pelosi and

Schumer arrive at the White House.  Trump was loaded for bear, walks in the

cabinet room, did not shake anyone`s hand or sit down which is always a

sign that your meeting is starting weird.


CLIFT:  I don`t think he had a chair.


TOLLIVER:  Yes, he didn`t have a chair.


MELBER:  After just three minutes, he left the room before anyone else

could speak.  At what point does that validate the arguments of whatever

you want to call it, Progressives, Hardliners, et cetera who say no, he

doesn`t get free meetings, you don`t go sit around with Trump and be

effectively a prop for his tanty.


CLIFT:  I remember there was a lot of pressure on President Obama to go

make nice with Mitch McConnell.  And he said, half-jokingly, at the White

House correspondence dinner, getting all this advice, I should have drinks

or dinner or play golf with Mitch McConnell.  He said, “Why don`t you try



MELBER:  You have a beer with McConnell.


CLIFT:  Right, exactly.  Exactly.  And, you know, I just – the personal

relationship with Trump can work with Schumer and Nancy.


I mean he calls it Chuck and Nancy.  He can get along with them.  He didn`t

have a way to pay for $2 trillion infrastructure package.  They don`t have

any serious legislation in this White House.  They don`t have any of the

normal government operations.  So –


MELBER:  And what`s – by the way, I don`t mean to be unserious, we have a

lot of serious stuff in this show.  But what is the deal with

infrastructure like always being seen like who`s seeing pulp fiction?  Is

infrastructure the light-filled briefcase?  It means whatever it wants to



TOLLIVER:  It shines on you.  You never see it but you know it`s there.


MELBER:  And you leave whenever you want because you never get to see

inside it.


TOLLIVER:  Exactly.


MELBER:  At what point do you stop going to infrastructure meetings?


CLIFT:  Well, it is like plastics back in the day of the graduate.


MELBER:  The graduate.


TOLLIVER:  A new job in plastics.


CLIFT:  Everybody wants infrastructure improvement.  Everybody sits in

their car frustrated.  People worry that bridges collapsing.


It is a popular and much-needed issue.  And if you travel to Beijing or you

travel to where supposedly third world countries and their airports are

better than ours.  You understand this disparity that is really –


MELBER:  Well, everybody wants to find their purpose but that took Dustin

Hoffman some time.


CLIFT:  That`s true.  The Democrats would like to find their purpose sooner

with government money that would fund jobs.  And Trump would like to have

partnerships with his buddies in the real estate world.  So it`s two

different approaches.


PRZYBYLA:  The problem is that the history of transformative infrastructure

projects in this country like the inner state highway system under

Eisenhower, they`ve all had a federal spending nucleus.  This president and

his handlers are fundamentally and philosophically opposed to that.


And by the way, all the money has already been spent at wars and tax cuts. 

And so they don`t have anything that they can offer.  They just don`t.


TOLLIVER:  And he is really shooting himself – yes, yes.


MELBER:  Let me fit in a break where you get to stay.  Heidi, thank you for

being part of our A block and our reporting tonight.  Appreciate it. 

Juanita Tolliver, as I mentioned, stay.  So we`ll come back to you.  I got

to fit in a break.


But coming up, Donald Trump losing this subpoena fight for his Deutsche

bank files.  Let me explain what that means.


New York State with a new law out today to get part of Donald Trump`s tax

returns.  And new reporting from inside that room where Pelosi faced down

her own caucus members demanding an impeachment probe.




PELOSI:  He`s engaged in a cover-up and that could be an impeachable




MELBER:  That`s not all.  I`m in Washington because I sat down with the

head of the Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff and he made some news,

including I want to talk to Bob Mueller`s old boss and Trump`s attorney






call him the attorney general.  He is really more the personal attorney of

the president.  Bill Barr has all the duplicity of Rudy Giuliani without

the good looks.




MELBER:  We`ll explain the context for that one and a lot more when we come

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




MELBER:  Let me put it like this, it`s not every day the speaker of the

House privately meets with the majority of the members of the House to

debate impeaching the president.  But that is how Speaker Pelosi began her

day today in response to what began as private and then was increasingly

public lobbying by at least some Democrats for an impeachment probe saying

that`s the best way to confront increasing White House stonewalling.


Now, today, some Democrats clashed with Pelosi.  Sources tell NBC News that

while the speaker reportedly used the time largely to let her members make

their case, her office also released these principles.  Follow the facts,

no one is above the law, and the one that apparently upset the president,

accusing him of the most significant cover-up in modern history.


Now, what was the debate in the room like?  We don`t know.  It was

obviously off the record.


But there are clues leaking out.  One member saying that having an

impeachment inquiry doesn`t change a darn thing.  Pelosi responding,



Another member reportedly openly talking politics.  Speculating that if

they do impeach, that would make it harder, not easier, to beat the



Now, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee serves in the Judiciary Committee and

today, she launched this resolution which we have here, brand new,

authorizing the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether sufficient

grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise impeachment



Congresswoman, thank you for joining me on a busy evening.  What does this

mean and how is it different from a formal impeachment probe?



say that it is extremely healthy that people who represent the people of

the United States of America engage in a very important debate and

discussion on the question of the rule of law and the Constitution.


I`ve dug deep into the House rules, the manual of practice, and certain

provisions allow certain types of resolution.  This is a resolution of

investigation which the language says that the House instructs the

Judiciary Committee to investigate to determine if it should utilize its

powers of Article I, Section II, Clause five.


So it triggers.  It is a two-step which I think brings all thought

processes together.  But the importance of it is this.  It gives the

imperator of the seriousness of the purpose.


It has the House vote on the question of investigation.  And since 1900,

the Congress has entrusted the Judiciary Committee to do its

investigations.  This does not preclude any other committee from continuing

its investigation.


And further, the successes that we recently had in the court decisions,

which we know the president is going to appeal. it gives greater strength

now in parallel to the court decisions, the individuals receiving the

subpoenas and the calls to testify know that the House of Representatives

has directed the Judiciary Committee to do this work.


MELBER:  So this is less than a full impeachment probe.  Although as you

say, it could lead to or trigger that.  Did you run this by the speaker in

advance?  Did you get her blessing?


LEE:  The good news is that the speaker respects all members and we use a

deliberative process.  Certainly, we have provided her with the information

about the resolution.


That is both protocol and respect and I respect the speaker and I respect

leadership.  And so we provided them with that information.


MELBER:  And I respect that and I respect what you`re saying.  I guess what

I`m asking respectfully is, can you tell us, is this something where you

and the speaker are in sync?  I want to give you a chance to respond to

some of the reaction to this which some people are saying, oh, is this

Speaker Pelosi`s way to offer something less than the full impeachment

probe which, as you know, was at issue this morning?


LEE:  We`re not in sync and it is not something less than.  It is just a

two-step.  And it does not preclude someone`s inspiration on their own

viewpoint.  But I think that it speaks to the enormity of this House and



We don`t know whether there`s any Republican member that would join the

idea of investigation.  We have not coordinated this.


She has only received information out of respect, we have not had any

coordination because I think that she respects members` deliberative

thought to come out with ideas that would work.  This will work.  This is a

resolution of investigation.


MELBER:  Let me run something else by you because as mentioned, you`re on

this very pivotal committee right now.  This was a colleague of yours

estimating how many of you and your members are for an impeachment probe in

our discussion last night.  Take a look.




REP. STEVE COHEN:  The Judiciary committee as a whole is for at least an

inquiry of impeachment.  That`s an 80, 90 percent of the committee is on

board to go forward.




MELBER:  Is that right?


LEE:  That`s probably true.  And the resolution of investigation does not

negate that but it provides a two-step process so that if this were to go

to the floor, there would be members who have different political

perspectives than I would have who would be willing to say, you`re right, a

resolution of investigation with the strength of the House of

Representative, both voting for it and directing the Judiciary Committee, I

can support that.


And then we make the Determination which will ultimately, as you well know,

the articles of impeachment are the prerogative of the House floor to vote

on.  We act as a sitting indictment committee, meaning the Judiciary



But the language of the resolution begins by saying, it instructs the

Judiciary Committee to investigate by way of the House of Representatives

to determine if we are utilizing our powers of Article I, Section II,

Clause five.  That is, of course, another constitutional policy.


MELBER:  I have about 30 seconds.  I want to get out one other thing.  So

we just did the Constitution.


I`m just curious, as a member of the Congress, what was your view of the

way the president acted and treated your Speaker Pelosi in that putative

infrastructure meeting that was not today?


LEE:  Historic moment that I`ve never seen in the last five decades.  If

you read your history books, let`s put it that way.  Certainly, have not

seen in the last two presidencies.


It is unacceptable because all of us are in rooms with people that we

vigorously disagree with.  But we continue the discussion and

infrastructure is a lifeline of America, both in terms of the energy of the



As you well know, Eric Ford has laid off 7,000 persons.  Some people who

are just shy of retirement.  And an infrastructure bill might put an

infusion of energy into the economy and help save jobs.


But you don`t mix apples and oranges.  The investigation is one.  And I`m

sure Speaker Pelosi would be willing to discuss with him the investigation,

her position on that, that an investigation should go forward and he can

offer his perspective.


But that kind of behavior, and that kind of disrespect, if you will, to an

equal branch of government, or maybe one that`s more equal, article one,

our Congress which has the task of representing the American people no

matter who they are, Republicans, Democrats, Independents.


And then, on the other hand, the executives who we should acknowledge and

respect.  But that has to be a two-way street.  And I`m saddened by what

happened today because we are doing what the Mueller report provided,

Volume I and Volume II.


Volume II said I have nine matters that may be obstruction, I am leaving it

to the Congress.  We have no other task and no other way but to proceed

with the investigation.  And I encourage members to look at the resolution

of the investigation it does provide the opportunity to investigate and to

move to the next step.


MELBER:  I want to get you on that as well.  Congresswoman Jackson, thank

you so much.


Still ahead, I turn to my new interview with Adam Schiff on Bill Barr and

many other related issues.  But first, in 30 seconds, a federal judge

rejecting Trump`s efforts to keep financial records secret.




MELBER:  That other news rattling the Trump White House tonight, a federal

judge issuing a ruling backing the Democrat subpoena for Donald Trump`s

banking records, rejecting his effort to halt it.  So unless a higher court

steps in, this means Trump is getting crushed on multiple fronts.


Judicially, this is the second straight court law for Trump`s effort to

defy subpoenas.  Legislatively, New York State lawmakers passing a new bill

today requiring Congress to get his state returns upon request.


And then there`s the executive branch which Donald Trump runs but doesn`t

completely control within our system of government.  Well, it turns out,

the experts at the IRS contradict the administration`s claim that the

Treasury secretary can just ignore congressional requests for tax returns

which was a hot topic at his hearing today.




REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Did you discuss the memorandum with anybody

inside the White House, outside the White House?  I`m referring to legal

counsel.  I`m referring to lawyers.  I`m referring to advisers.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY:  Well, let me be clear.  The only person

I`ve discussed that memo with is my general counsel on the car ride over

here who is sitting behind me.


REP. JENNIFER WAXTON (D-VI):  You are at least aware that the conclusion of

that memo directly contradicts the conclusion that you`re relying upon?


MNUCHIN:  No, I actually don`t believe that`s the case.




MELBER: Joining me to discuss, David Corn from Mother Jones and Eleanor

Clift back with me.  What does this mean?



here, I don`t know what the rap terminology would be, Ari.


MELBER:  Comas would be the rap term.


CORN:  But the circle is closing in on Trump on multiple fronts.  He likes

to say, again and again, I`m the most transparent president ever.  Well,

he`s actually the least transparent president ever, goes back to not

releasing the tax returns, and he has.

We heard about this before the election, couldn`t make it a big issue. 

$300 million in loans to Deutsche Bank, a foreign institution that`s been

in trouble for you know, not quite money laundering but doing funny things

with Russian money and up against U.S. regulators.


MELBER:  And not funny, ha-ha.


CORN:  Not funny, ha-ha.  And so the conflict of interest there is

gigantic.  And so whether it`s looking at Deutsche Bank, looking at his

taxes, he has 552 LLCs limited liability corporations on financial

disclosure form.  We know nothing about any of them.  I mean, we don`t know

–  we know very little about his finances overall and how he supported

himself, and even now because he hasn`t given up the Trump Organization

with money from overseas.  And so –


MELBER:  And you wonder why they`re looking at Steve Mnuchin today who is

supposed to worry about the financial system writ large and everyone`s

401(k)s and the Stock Market and the financing and the monetary policy to

some degree, looking at him today looking like the only thing he needs to

do is defend Donald Trump`s personal interest, the tax returns.  This is in

the hearing.




REP. ALMA ADAMS (D-NC):  So do you think the American people have a right

to know what`s in those tax reform – tax forms.


MNUCHIN:  No, I don`t.


ADAMS:  Do you know what he`s hiding?  I mean, he didn`t want anybody to

seem them, certainly not –


MNUCHIN:  I don`t think he`s hiding anything but –


ADAMS:  OK, so you don`t know.


MNUCHIN:  I don`t know anything about his tax rate.


ADAMS:  All right.




CORN:  Well, he is hiding something.  He`s hiding his tax returns every

major presidential candidate has put it out.  We have the tax returns for

the Clintons because they both ran at different points in time, I think

going back to the 1970s in the public record.  He keeps saying that he`s

been audited.  Well, then, give us the taxes from ten years ago.  Oh, but

you can because the New York Times did a story showing that his whole

family avoided taxes to the tune of $400 million.


I mean, Mnuchin – eventually this is going to hit a wall, right.  This

would go through the court system and a judge will decide whether this

phony argument of the White House that you can`t ask for this stuff is real

or not.  And they will order – probably order Mnuchin or they are IRS

director to produce the tax returns.


MELBER:  Well, and you say –


CORN:  And what happens if they say no?


MELBER:  You – yes, you – well, it depends how many sources there are

because you can also go to the outside auditors and these other mechanisms. 

I mean, Eleanor, David says it`s going to hit a wall.  And one of the

beautiful things in our system I believe is that wall is parchment and the

Founders gave this a lot of thought, and that`s why there is more than one



And we heard today from several members of Congress who said Bill Barr is

starting to cooperate more a little bit with the Intelligence Committee and

Donald Trump is clearly having his own version of reaction that the

multiple third branch, judicial branch rulings enforcing the subpoenas is

putting heat on the Trump administration.



these cabinet officials plus the individuals on the outside who no longer

work for the government at some point their own self-interest is going to

come into play.  I`m not saying they`re all going to do a Michael Cohen and

flip but I think they`re not going to stand undivided in protecting this



Now, I want to go back to what Congresswoman Lee said.  She is suggesting

that there is going to be a floor vote in the House.  That would be

partisan lines, maybe Justin Amash should get one Republican.  And this is

political war.  The country is so divided and you cannot wage war in a

democracy if you do not have public support.


And these court rulings, this step-by-step squeezing of the administration

is going to explain to the American people what is wrong with this

president and why he should not be in office.  I don`t – that may take

into 2020, I don`t know, but I think that step-by-step approach is what

Nancy Pelosi is advocating and I think it`s beginning to pay off.


And I`m so looking forward to understanding why he didn`t want us to see

his tax returns.  I`d like to also know how much money he personally made

because of the tax cuts that he pushed through.  I mean, there are

wonderful little pieces of information here that can be politicized and

weaponized I have to argue –


MELBER:  There are millions of little pieces, perhaps.


CLIFT:  Right, exactly.


MELBER:  If not – if not, a billion.  It depends who you believe.  Eleanor

Clift and David Corn, thanks to both of you.  And David tweets about this

every day, right?


CORN:  Almost – yes.


MELBER:  Almost every day.


CORN:  Not on the weekends.


MELBER:  Every weekday.  It would be good to see the tax returns.  When we

come back, we go in a different direction, looking at the echoes of the

Nixon era in some of Donald Trump`s threats, and my interview with Intel

Chair Adam Schiff, news on Bill Barr and whether Rod Rosenstein will

testify and why that already made headlines.  We`ll explain next.




MELBER:  For all the stonewalling, delaying, and outright defiance of

subpoenas by the Trump White House against this Congress, this morning

actually began with take a look, an unusual headline.  Bill Barr`s DOJ

saying it agrees to share some Mueller evidence with the House Intelligence



The New York Times noting that DOJ responding to that subpoena is a sharp

contrast to their clash with Democrats on other committees like Judiciary. 

So that apparent breakthrough came after pressure from Intelligence Chair

Adam Schiff making him quite the newsmaker today.


And Schiff actually opened up about those negotiations and a lot more when

I interviewed him this morning at the Center for American Progress annual

conference.  He also unloaded on Mr. Barr right out of the gate.




REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  I hesitate to call him the attorney general. 

He`s really more the personal attorney for the president.  But you see the

argument –


MELBER:  What do you mean by that?  You don`t think he deserves the title



SCHIFF:  No.  I think – I think Bill Barr – bill Barr has all the

duplicity of Rudy Giuliani without the good looks and a general likeability

of Rudy Giuliani.




MELBER:  I`m joined by the Center for American Progress` Juanita Tolliver. 

What did you think of that rather – for Schiff very strong language about




FUND:  Very strong but very clear.  He doesn`t think he deserves the AG

title because Barr has demonstrated he plays for an audience of one who was

Trump.  We saw that in the congressional testimony he`s offered, we saw

that in his summary of the Mueller report which Mueller`s team says he

mischaracterized.  So the evidence is there.


MELBER:  Yes.  And it`s interesting because he is actually doubling down on

that heat while getting a concession that judiciary hasn`t gotten yet.


TOLLIVER:  Got a concession but only after a court ruled in favor of

Democrats.  We saw that with Trump`s accounting firm where the judge ruled

that they must release Trump`s financial records.  So I think Barr saw a

signal there and knew he needs to give in a little bit.


MELBER:  Yes.  You make a great point that it`s actually in his own self-

interest if he doesn`t want to get a worse loss in public.  There`s

something else I want to ask you about is I discussed the whole rod

Rosenstein saga with Congressman Schiff.  Now, I`m not just mentioning this

because I interviewed Schiff, it`s actually made news already as you right

– see here on the screen.


These are some of the headlines that came out of what Adam Schiff told me

here about making Rosenstein potentially testify.  Take a look.




SCHIFF:  You know, I think James Comey came probably very close to the

accurate critique of Rod Rosenstein.  He just wasn`t strong enough.  And

you know, someone made the observation and I don`t recall who the writer

was that power doesn`t corrupt, it reveals.  It reveals who you are.  And I

think for Bill Barr it has revealed who Bill Barr is.  I think for Rod

Rosenstein, it has revealed who Rod Rosenstein is.  And I think Rob simply

wanted his job too much and was willing to make too many accommodations to

give – to keep that job.


MELBER:  Do you think the Congress should call or subpoena Mr. Rosenstein

to further explain that very controversial memo which is the origin of the

Mueller probe in a way?


SCHIFF:  I think he should be brought before both the Judiciary Committee

as well as our own committee and we are taking steps along that regard.


MELBER:  Well, now, I have to ask, what are those steps?  Have you – are

you telling us today that you have requested Rosenstein testify to the

House Intelligence Committee?


SCHIFF:  I`m not prepared to comment –


MELBER:  Would it be reasonable to infer you`ve already requested a

voluntary interview with Mr. Rosenstein.


SCHIFF:  This does feel like a deposition.  You know, it would be more than

reasonable to infer that I think it`s fully appropriate for him to come and

testify before Congress.




MELBER:  I`m sorry that it felt like a depo.


TOLLIVER:  Way too harsh, Ari.  I mean –


MELBER:  The headlines we showed were the bottom line of what we want to

give viewers the full context but not just us but reporters have inferred

from that, that yes, for the first time he`s confirming they want to get

Rosenstein testifying.  Why would that matter?


TOLLIVER:  Chairman Schiff was very clear about the fact that they`re

taking steps because they want to dig into a couple of things around his

role in writing the memo that resulted in Comey`s firing, what he knew at

the time he wrote it.


I think even looking back to his change in cooperation when it was a

Republican-led House, and now Democratic-led House when he previously

released over 800,000 documents.  So there`s a lot to dig into.


MELBER:  I want to turn to another issue that you know, some people say oh,

never compare anything because it`s a new era.  I think it`s the opposite

because part of my job which I try to do is not just fold and normalize.


 So if another president say Barack Obama was confirmed to in the New York

Times be considering pardoning convicted war criminals charged with murder,

convicted of war crimes, convicted of – and I`ve said this on our show

before I`ll say it again, of “urinating on the deceased bodies of other

soldiers.”  I don`t think it would be a side story or a mentionable.  I

think it would be one of the biggest scandals for weeks.  I think there`ll

be whole committees opened up just in looking at that. 


And so with that in mind, obviously the Congressman discuss a lot of

issues, I also pressed him on this report that we`ve been covering on our

show, and this was his response to those potential pardons for war crimes. 

Take a look.




SCHIFF:  The damage it would do I think would be incalculable.  this is

basically a President`s message about everything.  If you say nice things

about me, if you have my back, I will have yours.  The law be damned.  And

it is just part and parcel of the most serious attack on the rule of law

and our democracy certainly in my lifetime.




TOLLIVER:  Look, one thing that Representative Schiff made very clear here

was that there are limitations to the President`s power to pardon.  He does

not willed that without any type of course correction.  And I think

Representative Schiff has already introduced legislation to try to reel

that in.  But there are only a few boundaries that they can set.


It`s still very troubling that the president operates in this way of have

my back, I have yours.  It`s a signal that he sends out numerous times so

it`s good that they`re on top of that.


MELBER:  It is not normal to have a president looking at by a Memorial Day

deadline pardoning convicted war criminals without a review, without any

sort of process that might say, here`s one that maybe we got wrong, but

just know he wants to do it because as we reported, as Daily Beast

reported, the Fox News hosts have been telling him to.  Juanita, great to

have you.


TOLLIVER:  Always great.  Always great.


MELBER:  (INAUDIBLE) the show.  Good to see you.


TOLLIVER:  Yes, thanks for having me.


MELBER:  Up ahead, Speaker Pelosi accusing Donald Trump of this cover-up

and this epic face to face clash, and then she sat down to explain it all

for an exclusive interview with my next guest.






REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  This president is obstructing justice and he`s

engaged in a cover-up and that could be an impeachable offense, the cover-

up is frequently worse than the crime.




MELBER:  Today, Speaker Pelosi enraging President Trump accusing him of

that cover-up, doubling down at the Center for American Progress during an

interview with the organization`s CEO former Obama and Clinton official

Neera Tanden who joins me live right now after a big day.  Thanks for being




right.  Yes, lots of news.


MELBER:  Did you know when you scheduled this that Speaker Pelosi would be

leaving a three-minute meeting at the White House that some have called a

(INAUDIBLE) meeting to address your conference.


TANDEN:  No, we scheduled this actually months ago with her.  So I want to

send my personal thanks to Donald Trump for having a tantrum that

engendered a lot of news and interest in the Center for American Progress

which it isn`t generally what his focus is, so I`m grateful.


MELBER:  What do you think was important about that that you learned from

her today?


TANDEN:  I think that the most important thing I think is you know, there`s

a big debate around impeachment and how they proceed.  I think it`s

important that she – I mean she really talked about the offenses he`s had

and how they could be impeachable offenses.


What I thought was also really interesting is she really walked through the

jurisdiction of all the committees and where those cases are.  And it`s

trying to lay – I think you know, what she`s really trying to tell people

is she`s depending on the rule of law to work for these courts to actually

force the hand of the president.


MELBER:  People know you from CAP.  You served in the Clinton and Obama

administration, you have a lot of experience.  The Barack Obama

administration was relentlessly investigated on some issues that involve

serious things.  There were people who lost their lives in Benghazi and

other issues that turned out to be nothing like allegations that the IRS

was targeting people.


I covered that and turned out, in the end, they weren`t.  And Barack Obama

never took the position that the people`s business or governance would have

to stop even though some of those did prove unfounded.  Here`s what Speaker

Pelosi said to you about that today.




PELOSI:  He came into the room and said that I said that he was engaged in

a cover-up and it couldn`t possibly – couldn`t possibly engage in a

conversation or an infrastructure as long as – as long as we are

investigating him.  Now, we`ve been investigating him since we took

majority so this is nothing new in that.




MELBER:  That`s how she put it and for your analysis, we did check and even

during the darkest days of Richard Nixon will show the legislation that

actually did happen.  Some of it that would be considered even senator left

today protecting endangered species.  They worked on the budget,

bipartisan, the War Powers Resolution which was a reaction to the overreach

of Vietnam.  What`s your analysis of how that applies?


TANDEN:  You know, what I thought was fascinating about the President`s

response was I actually served in the Clinton administration during the

Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment.  And if you remember, Bill Clinton

was famous for trying to compartmentalize.


And what that really meant was he was trying to do the work of the people,

working on childcare, working on patient`s Bill of Rights, a whole range of

issues.  His goal was actually to communicate to the people, the opposite

of what Trump is saying.


His goal was to say despite these investigations of me, I am still your

president, I`m still focused on your problems.  And if you remember that

kept his approval ratings up during all of the scandal.


MELBER:  And before I let you go, what do you think`s the most important

thing then for Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats to legislate before this

next election?


TANDEN:  So I think the most important thing is Donald Trump is

communicating to the American people that he doesn`t care about the public

issues.  I think he`s actually going to weaken his hand on the impeachment

issue because he doesn`t – there`s nothing else he`s going to get to. 

There was nothing he`s really focused on instead on himself.


MELBER:  And what should they pass?


TANDEN:  And I think the most important thing for her is to continue the

oversight because Donald Trump is demonstrating that it is getting to him,

that he`s worried about his poll numbers, that he`s worried about public

approval collapsing.  She has the upper hand and leverage.  And I have to

say in my interview with her right after this event, she really felt like

she had the upper hand against Donald Trump.


MELBER:  Yes.  It was striking and I saw more than one news channel to say

nothing of Twitter keeping a close eye on what was her first remarks after

(INAUDIBLE) I think is what it`s called now which happened to be your

comment.  So whether that was great scheduling or luck, as we say, a very

interesting –


TANDEN:  It was all a master plan.  I`m sorry, did I not say that earlier? 

It was all a master plan.


MELBER:  Neera Tanden, always great to talk to you.  thanks for being here. 

Up ahead, we have one more news that you may not have heard about.  A new

charge against attorney Michael Avenatti relating to Stormy Daniels when we

come back.




MELBER:  One more piece of news we wanted to report for you tonight. 

Federal prosecutors in New York filing brand-new charges against attorney

Michael Avenatti.  They claim that he stole almost $300,000 from his former

client Stormy Daniels and that Avenatti was suing “fraudulent documents to

divert earnings from Daniel`s own book deal into his bank account. 

Avenatti has now been accused of more than three dozen crimes.  He has

denied all of these charges.


Now, that does it from me.  I will see you back here tomorrow night 6:00

p.m. Eastern.  But don`t go anywhere.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up








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