Trump rejects CDC guidelines TRANSCRIPT: 5/7/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests:
Michael J. Moore, Robert Reich, Michael Osterholm, John Flannery,Michelle Goldberg
Transcript:

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

 

And we have a lot of breaking news right now.

 

Attorney General Barr`s Justice Department is suddenly and suspiciously

dropping what was a long-running Mueller prosecution, the criminal case

against Donald Trump`s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had

admitted guilt.

 

What is going on? We have a special guest on that, and it`s in our

broadcast coming soon tonight.

 

Also, later tonight, Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is here. We`re

going discuss the economy and a lot more. So, stay with us for that.

 

And later tonight, the mom of the Georgia man shot and killed on video has

been speaking out, as you may recall. We have been covering this story.

And, tonight, a former U.S. attorney from that state joins me.

 

As I told you, we are going to stay on that case. It is really striking.

 

But given what`s going on in the nation, we begin with breaking COVID news.

 

A valet who served President Trump meals and personally was around him as

an assistant has tested positive for coronavirus. A source notes that the

individuals who have been in this role have followed more of Donald Trump`s

approach than the CDC approach, because many of these individuals, who are

right around the president, who is in the elderly pool that is at risk,

they don`t wear masks.

 

They`re close to the president. And Donald Trump, according to reports, is

– quote – “very upset.”

 

All of this is a reminder at the top levels of government, this is a virus

that can continue to hit anywhere, any time, even when everyone involved

knows what to be on guard for.

 

Meanwhile, an explosive new report is saying that 43 states will be fully

or partially reopen by this weekend. We are also learning that Donald Trump

himself is rejecting other CDC guidance on how this reopening should be

done, the AP with a report that Trump basically shelved key guidelines that

were supposed to be published as recently as last Friday, scientists told

they would never see the light of day.

 

The president worried that the message it sent wouldn`t match up with what

he`s saying, including his desire to push an economic reopening.

 

Meanwhile, what you see here is the president meeting with the governor of

Texas, who had just recently admitted this week that reopening will lead to

more infections and thus raise the risk of these deaths.

 

With the news that Donald Trump himself is close to an individual who has

tested positive, there is a question here about whether this meeting should

even have been held.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

QUESTION: How is it possible that someone that tested positive for COVID-19

got so close to you?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have had very little

contact, personal contact, with this gentleman. Know who he is. A good

person, but I have had very little contact. Mike has had very little

contact with him. But Mike was tested, and I was tested. We were both

tested.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: That`s the president`s response.

 

Obviously, any indication that there is a higher risk inside the White

House raises all sorts of governmental concerns. We have a public health

crisis, if the question is whether the government keeping itself safe and

how that affects, of course, the larger policy it`s making.

 

And then something everyone already knows about, but that we continue to

get new information about, this economic toll, the hardship so many people

are living through right now every single day. Here is the latest numbers,

33.5 million people now unemployed.

 

If you`re counting, that`s one in five people who are in the U.S. job

market.

 

We`re joined now by the director of the Center for Infectious Disease,

Research and Policy from the University of Minnesota, Michael Osterholm.

Economics professor at U.C. Berkeley and a former labor secretary, Robert

Reich, he`s the author of “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It.” And

Michelle Goldberg from “The New York Times.”

 

Thanks to all of you for being here, there is a ton going on.

 

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA CENTER FOR

INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH: Thank you.

 

MELBER: I want to begin with you, Mr. Osterholm.

 

When we see all of this information coming at us, and we see that the

reopenings continue into this weekend, do you view this as manageable risk

or are some places and states acting too quickly?

 

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, we have to just put this in perspective.

 

We only have 5 to 15 percent of the U.S. population that has been infected

by this virus, and it won`t stop transmitting until we get to 60 to 70

percent. So, whatever happens in the next few weeks obviously is going to

contribute to that.

 

And, yes, we do believe that, with transmission occurring as widely as it

is in a number of the states, we`re going see an uptick in cases and deaths

that will occur likely within three to four weeks after the reopenings.

 

MELBER: How does that compare to the countries that have handled this best?

This is a rare case where there is a lot of apples to apples, in the sense

that other nations are dealing with this. What insights can be gleaned

there, in your view?

 

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, we have to be very careful when we say how

other countries have handled this.

 

We`re only in the second inning of a nine-inning game. And we have seen

countries like Singapore that received a great deal of praise and credit

for what they did, only to find out that they had a place they hadn`t

thought to look for in their migrant workers and had to declare a national

state of emergency.

 

The same thing happened in Japan. On the other hand, you have other

countries like New Zealand that actually may be able to accomplish a great

deal of control because of the island status.

 

China acquired its largely controlled status through some of the most

draconian measures that we have ever seen with population movement. So I

think, at this point, we know we have lots of virus in this country. We

know it`s in many places. And we know it`s going to continue to be

transmitted. We just have to figure out how we`re going get from 5 to 15

percent to 60 to 70 percent infected.

 

MELBER: I can`t tell from your answer, though, do you think that states are

opening prematurely or not?

 

OSTERHOLM: Well, at some point, we have to reopen. And the question is, how

and when do we reopen?

 

We had a set of standards that I thought most everyone had agreed to in

terms of lowering of case numbers, the fact that hospitals had adequate

equipment to protect their health care workers. It doesn`t seem that we`re

abiding by that anymore.

 

So, yes, I think, in that regard, it`s going to be a problem. I asked the

same question is, if we see a suddenly major uptick in cases, do we have

criteria to bring these measures back?

 

We have no on-ramp or off-ramp right now for this. That`s part of the

challenge, and that`s why the public is so confused, and frankly, angry.

They want more detail about why are we doing what we`re doing, and we owe

the public that, and we`re not giving it to them.

 

MELBER: Yes.

 

I mean, to your point, at this juncture, even the baseline standards that

were put out by the Trump administration itself, like having a falling case

rate before you reopen, those aren`t being followed by a lot of the states.

 

Michelle Goldberg, I`m curious of your view on all of the above, and I also

want to play for you and all our viewers the fallout from this exchange

with the president and a nurse. Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: PPE has been sporadic, but it`s been manageable.

 

TRUMP: Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people.

 

QUESTION: Were you surprised when he contradicted you there in the Oval

Office in front of all those cameras?

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually didn`t give it much thought. I was grateful

to be there. I think that he understands that there are some areas that

don`t have PPE.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: Michelle, the nicest thing I can say is, nurses deal with all kinds

of crap. So she may want to put the best face on the situation and go back

to the hard work she is doing. But that exchange, in addition to what…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MELBER: Go ahead.

 

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: These nurses were specifically

selected to be there. Right? This isn`t just a random sampling of nurses

and how they`re faring.

 

And even the people specifically selected to be there are saying that

they`re having more problems than the president wants to admit to. Look,

what we have seen is just a calamitous breakdown – breakdown is not even

the right word, just a calamitous absence of any presidential leadership.

 

The president has decided that this is too hard, it requires too much

attention, you know, it`s kind of too unpleasant. And so there is no plan

to introduce any sort of comprehensive testing and tracing program before

we would reopen.

 

They`re just basically saying, you`re on your own, and eventually we`re

going get to herd immunity. And if a few hundred thousand people die in the

process, that`s the cost of fixing the economy before November.

 

And so then you have all of these states on their own. You have very

responsible leadership in certain states, but how do you control a pandemic

state by state, when it`s not like we have border checks? So you have

numbers finally going down in New York because people have made tremendous

sacrifices, and it`s being completely undone by the irresponsible approach

in other parts of the country.

 

MELBER: Professor Reich?

 

ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: Well, I completely agree with

that.

 

But, more to the point, we are seeing in the United States an increase in

deaths. The rates of deaths of coronavirus continue to rise. No other

country has loosened its social distancing rules and its sort of lockdown

rules, in the face of rising rates of deaths from the coronavirus.

 

So we are an outlier in so many ways, and the real tragedy here is that it

looks awfully like Donald Trump wants to reopen America for entirely

political purposes, to get the economy rolling by Election Day, when the

great irony is that, actually, if the economy is opened too early, and

there is more of a pandemic, and the rate of infections and deaths

continues to rise, that is going to make it harder for the economy to get

back on track.

 

MELBER: Well, Professor, to build on your point, as you say, he may be

playing himself, because it may not be gaming out that even narrow strategy

basically correctly, as you say.

 

On the more substantive health point you make, I want you to build on your

point.

 

We will put on the screen this very important measurement – “The New York

Times” has collected this – where you see New York, where the cases are

finally falling. That was the epicenter on the left. Much of the rest of

the United States, Professor, walk us through what this means to the point

you`re making, where the cases are still rising.

 

REICH: Well, the cases are rising, and, also, the deaths are rising.

 

And the United States actually is unique, in the sense that we are not only

facing rising deaths and rising cases, but we are also beginning to reopen

the country in the face of all of this.

 

Now, what does that mean? Well, it can only mean one thing. That can only

mean that the rate of infections and the rate of deaths will increase even

further, because, as Michelle was saying, all of the sacrifices that were

made in New York and places that were – that had been the epicenter,

basically become worthless, because other places in this country are not

taking those measures, and they are now facing the great wave of this

terrible coronavirus heading in their direction.

 

MELBER: Mr. Osterholm, I also wanted to get your insights. I bring some of

the toughest questions to you, given your expertise.

 

Here is another one, statistics from New York, which show a very high

percentage here, 66 percent, they estimate, of the new hospitalizations are

from people who were sheltering at home. Can you explain that to us?

 

OSTERHOLM: Yes.

 

Well, first of all, we only have partial data there. What I mean by that

is, just because you were sheltering at home, doesn`t mean you didn`t have

contact with people who are outside the home besides you.

 

So this is one of the measures I think we have to really look at carefully

in how we educate the public. If you have contact in a crowded apartment

building with others who are going out, you really are self – not

protecting yourself.

 

So we need those data. And our additional review suggests that`s what

happened. They really did have contact. It just wasn`t they hadn`t left

their apartment to have that contact.

 

MELBER: And, Professor Reich, I also want to play for you some of the –

what we`re hearing from people who are hit by this.

 

Obviously, all these people out of work, as I mentioned, with the numbers,

just tragic, and also small business owners struggling. Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

NIGEL SNELLMAN, CAESARS PALACE FURLOUGHED EMPLOYEE: To rush to open and

just kind of throw the chips up in the air and see where they land is

really not a sound policy or a safe one.

 

NICHOLE MISSINO, OWNER, GIOVANNI`S MEDIA BARBERSHOP: I have employees that

are like, I`m not going to be able to eat if it`s four or five weeks. So, I

just – I had to make the decision that, you know what, I`m just going to

open my business.

 

RHONDA ATKINS, OWNER, SKRIMP SHACK: Anything that has to be done in the

store, we pull right now from our own personal savings to make sure we keep

things going. And we`re just going to manage it however we have to.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: Professor?

 

REICH: Well, Ari, I think it needs to be restated that this is the richest

country in the world. The United States is the richest country in the

history of the world.

 

The idea that we have to subject so many of our workers to the diabolical

choice between either working and putting food on their table and keeping a

roof over their heads or subjecting themselves and their families to the

risk of this virus and possible death is absurd.

 

We should not be forcing people to make that choice.

 

MELBER: Michelle?

 

GOLDBERG: I mean, and I think force is the important word here, right?

 

There are certain people who talk about this in terms of liberation. But if

your company opens and you`re ordered back to work and you can no longer

get unemployment insurance because, technically, you have a job and the

company is open, that`s not liberation, right?

 

What we are doing is, we`re kind of waging this experiment. But it`s not

being done on the backs of people like me, people like any of us on this

program, who probably all have the luxury of being able to do most of our

work at home, right?

 

We can pick and choose our exposure. We can pick and choose whether we want

to continue to really be locked down or whether we want to go to some of

these businesses that are opening if we`re in one of those states.

 

But a lot of people don`t have that luxury. And, again, this isn`t

happening in many other countries. Other countries have found ways to

provide for people, to keep people employed, to keep paying their salaries

without, forcing them to make this incredibly dangerous decision.

 

MELBER: Well, I think you both make such an important point there. And it

speaks to the Orwellian aspect of this, when we hear rhetoric about

liberating people, and what the economic activity going on is actually a

kind of coercion, under incredible duress, against a backdrop of

insufficient government support for what is a basic question of whether

people have health care and have other means to get through a pandemic that

wasn`t their own doing.

 

All of that a deep moral question, really, for what we want to be as a

country.

 

My thanks to Michelle and Robert on that, and Michael Osterholm for your

medical expertise, as always.

 

We`re going fit in a break. We have a lot coming up in the show.

 

Donald Trump`s Justice Department is trying to extinguish the case against

Michael Flynn, even though he literally pled guilty in public.

 

We have John Flannery here on that right after this break.

 

Later tonight, a shooting that continues to stun the nation. We`re hearing

from the mother of the Georgia man killed unarmed while jogging in broad

daylight, no arrests, no charges yet.

 

Also, my live interview tonight with Michael Moore, a man who knows his way

around the economy and corporations and what does capitalism mean,

something we were just touching on, during a crisis.

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER: We`re all living through a deadly pandemic, and much, if not

virtually all of the news on some nights is about that story and related

developments.

 

Our next story, which is very high in our broadcast because it`s a huge

story, has nothing to do with COVID, but it`s something you need to know

about, and it may involve your government, the Trump administration, using

this time period to do something that it doesn`t want everyone to

scrutinize.

 

The Justice Department is now formally pushing in court to try to

extinguish, remove and erase the entire prosecution of Michael Flynn. You

may recall this was a key part of the Mueller probe.

 

A U.S. attorney here serving in the Trump administration now says all of

the sudden the entire prosecution, the entire case should be dropped

against Trump`s former national security adviser.

 

But, as you may recall, that is a very odd thing to do right now, because

that former security adviser, Michael Flynn, already pled guilty in court

under oath to the crime of lying to the FBI and then tried to cooperate at

one point in time later.

 

After all this heat, after Mueller has effectively left the stage, now,

later, Mr. Flynn had said maybe he wants to withdraw his guilty plea and

see how that could work out.

 

Well, the Justice Department, while acknowledging that Flynn pled guilty,

is now breaking news arguing he did so – quote – “without full awareness

of the very circumstances,” and they assert that the government doesn`t

believe it, the Trump administration Justice Department, could prove –

quote – “Mr. Flynn knowingly and willfully made a false statement.”

 

Now the government, sounding more like a defense counsel, is asserting in

court that Mr. Flynn`s false statement – quote – “came from gaps in his

memory.”

 

This decision was made public minutes after a prosecutor who worked for Bob

Mueller, Brandon Van Grack, formally left, resigning this case.

 

All of this comes on the heels of a very unusual thing when you have an

independent investigation that touches on the president and the White

House, which was a new attorney general, when he was instated, Bill Barr,

wanted to review all of it and sort of put the Mueller prosecutors on

trial.

 

We may be seeing the fruits of this.

 

It also revealed that a senior FBI official, in preparing for this

interview – and we previously reported this – asked, as part of the

development of this investigative process – quote – “What`s our goal?

Truth/admission, or to get him, Flynn, to lie so we can prosecute him or

get him fired?”

 

A review urged Barr to drop the case, according to the Justice Department.

The attorney general is saying not that this came from him or Trump, but

that it sort of bubbled up, even though Donald Trump has publicly called

for exactly this kind of softer treatment for the people who have gotten

caught up in the probe that he is close with, like Roger Stone and Michael

Flynn.

 

Now, I want to remind you of something, because we reported on this a lot,

and we always try to be very careful and precise about it. The Mueller

probe ended on a very careful legal middle ground. It didn`t end in a

witch-hunt or an overreach ,where there was a trumped-up case against

Donald Trump or an alleged conspiracy with Russia.

 

Remember – and I reported this at the time, if you were there along with

us – Bob Mueller wrote a report, didn`t find an indictable election

conspiracy, didn`t assert there was enough that could be criminally proven

on what was colloquially known as collusion, and didn`t indict on that.

 

What he did find, meticulously and carefully, this former Republican

director of the FBI who got that assignment to be special counsel, what

Mueller did find was a kind of crime spree at the highest levels of Trump

world, and he charged those cases.

 

And this is what you have to remember. I`m about to bring in a prosecutor

who knows all about this.

 

But I want you to remember this, because it`s such a big story right now.

Every case Mueller brought, he won. No court, no jury, no defendant has

ever defeated any of those cases. In other words, every time a prosecution

did proceed, either it went to a jury trial and they convicted, or there

was such overwhelming evidence that the defendants pled guilty, as we saw

from Mr. Manafort, from Mr. Cohen, from Mr. Gates, and, yes, from Mr.

Flynn.

 

He pled guilty. I want to remind you of that. A judge asked him in court,

how do you plead? And Flynn said, “Guilty, Your Honor.”

 

The judge asked, “Are you entering this plea of guilty because you are

guilty and for no other reason?” – public, in court, under oath. And Flynn

said under oath, “Yes, Your Honor.”

 

These are facts, public facts, under oath, provided to you by the adults

involved.

 

Tonight, we`re seeing all of that attempted to be overturned by the Trump

Justice Department, not because it wasn`t proven in court, not because Mr.

Flynn didn`t admit guilt, not because Mr. Mueller didn`t lay out a careful

case, but because tonight we can report for you, after all that, the

Justice Department is actively interfering with the results when they touch

on individuals who are close to the president.

 

Now, as promised, we turn to an expert in this, former federal prosecutor

John Flannery, who has provided legal analysis for us throughout the

duration of that Mueller probe, including how Mr. Barr handled it when he

took over as attorney general.

 

I should note that Mr. Flannery has also served as counsel to congressional

inquiries and has a great level of expertise on this.

 

Good to see you. I hope you and your family are well. I haven`t seen you in

a little while, and thanks for being here tonight, sir.

 

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It`s good to be with you, Ari.

 

MELBER: Let`s start with the question, does this development look to you on

the level?

 

FLANNERY: No, it doesn`t.

 

It looks to me like the usual path that Barr follows. And in this case, he

has enlisted Shea. And he has been having an investigation for sometime of

each of the special counsel`s cases to see if he can find some way to

slander and disrupt the participants to get rid of that case, or to at

least make a path clearer for Trump, the president, for whom he is the

consigliere, to pardon them.

 

And I think this case is a good example of that. You have on the one hand

the assistant special counsel withdrawing from the case, probably because

he knew what was going to happen, that they were going to make a motion

that he didn`t bring to dismiss the pleas.

 

And they tried to slander him by suggesting that there was some information

he knew that, when the court asked for it, he didn`t give it. Well, Judge

Sullivan may want to ask him about that.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MELBER: Let`s pause on that. You are saying from your legal view that you

think there is enough evidence to suggest the Mueller prosecutor is leaving

in protest, you think?

 

FLANNERY: Yes, oh, absolutely, I think so, especially because he was an

important special counsel, and he has a focused assignment, if you will. He

was looking into something.

 

Probably, like me, when I started, he cared about corruption, and that`s

what he was concerned about. And here you have the guy, Flynn, right after

we have members of the president`s family looking for a backdoor channel to

communicate with the Soviet – with Russia, rather, and then you have Flynn

having exactly that conversation secretly toward the end of December.

 

And he is talking about, don`t worry so much about the ban that Obama wants

to put in place. Don`t worry about the fact we`re going close down your

embassy, sort of be patient. And there was also a conversation about how to

vote in the U.N. on a resolution involving Israel.

 

So this was not a light affair. This was a significant affair, which has

prompted people to talk to him as a traitor. And I think the investigators

thought, as I would, at the early part of the investigation, if I`m talking

to Flynn, I want him to cooperate, because this guy is my path to other

people.

 

He`s been – he`s dinner with Putin in Russia. He has been going back and

forth, and he is coming in, in a high-level position that involves national

security.

 

MELBER: Right.

 

FLANNERY: This is a guy that shouldn`t be in the White House.

 

MELBER: Let`s look at the evidence for the point you`re making right now,

which is this, in essence, is about Barr`s approach vs. Mueller`s.

 

And people have learned a lot about how Barr approaches this case, and he

has spoken publicly, undermining the integrity of the investigation. And we

know a lot about Mueller, because I think people recall.

 

We have written evidence that is newly released, John, about what Mueller`s

team was looking at and investigating with Flynn. I will read it for

everyone.

 

FLANNERY: Sure.

 

MELBER: Allegations that Flynn may have, that is to say, they were

investigating whether he committed crimes by – quote – “engaging in

conversations with Russian government officials, lying to the FBI, failing

to report foreign contacts, and acting as an unregistered agent for the

country of Turkey in a different scenario that has also been reported on.”

 

What does that, in your view, do to either supporting or not supporting

this conviction, which, again, was a conviction that Flynn pled guilty to

up until these developments?

 

FLANNERY: It shows that it was a substantial case that should have gone

forward.

 

It shows that we were concerned about the highest kinds of security

questions that this nation should be investigating. And it had the double

perplexing dilemma of having people in the White House who may be involved

in the very thing that Flynn was doing, because, presumably, he didn`t do

this on his own.

 

So they were in a difficult position, the investigators, as to who to tell

when. And the one person in the Justice Department who went over to talk

about the concerns about Flynn got fired right after that, claiming it had

to do with her not prosecuting certain kinds of cases or taking a position

that the government wanted.

 

But it was a coincidence to be concerned about.

 

I think, in the Barr administration, justice is a coincidence of the

system, not a consequence on it.

 

MELBER: Hmm.

 

The president is speaking out on this today. I want to play a brief excerpt

for your response. I want to warn viewers what you are about to hear is

legally false. Everyone is entitled to a defense, and we cover that

carefully.

 

But the president here makes a false claim, alleging treason, which

involves fighting against the government that`s at war with a hostile

foreign power in active war. We can authoritatively say this is false. I

want to warn people of that.

 

Play this and get your response. This was the president today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: He was an innocent man. He is great gentleman. He was targeted by

the Obama administration, and he was targeted in order to try and take down

a president. It`s treason. It`s treason. So, I`m very happy for General

Flynn.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: John?

 

FLANNERY: You know, I can`t believe the bounds of law and responsibility

that this man runs through every day he is in office, sometimes several

times, lying about facts, lying about the law.

 

If there was treason to be investigated here, it was to be concerned about

Flynn violating policies of this country involving how to deal with Russia,

how to deal with certain people who had committed crimes that we were

concerned about, how we were concerned about them interfering in an

election, and how we were concerned about this administration undermining a

policy of the Obama administration having to do with that interference by

closing down their embassies.

 

So the president is, like usual, way off the truth, not even close…

 

MELBER: Yes.

 

FLANNERY: … and way off the law, because he will say anything. Slander

and disruption are his method.

 

MELBER: And it`s very serious, because, if this is meddling to help the

president`s allies, his friends, then you have now the execution of what

the president`s critics have said are one of the worst things about this

administration, that, as they allege, there is overt public calls to

investigate rivals: Hillary Clinton should go to jail. Oh, Joe Biden should

be investigated.

 

And, on the flip side, there is the alleged abuse of the Justice Department

to go soft on, to protect, to have a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card

literally for the president`s allies.

 

We can report tonight Chairman Nadler of the Judiciary Committee saying

this is a corrupt abuse of power that they want to investigate.

 

Having reported all of that, as you know, as a legal reporter, I always

want to give everyone all of the evidence to make up their own mind.

 

There is one piece of the DOJ argument that could be meritorious, if true,

by which I mean what the president said is worthless.

 

But the DOJ argues that if there are enough problems with the way Mr. Flynn

was approached, then the misstatements he made, even if false, may not have

been material, a key word that you know, and I think viewers who follow

this case may remember, material, that if you make a false statement about

nothing, you say, what did you have for breakfast, eggs, no, I had cereal,

that is immaterial, even if false.

 

So, this is, again, as I say, one thing that I wanted your view on, because

it could be, if true, a defense, the DOJ saying new tonight: “The

government is no longer persuaded that Flynn`s interview was conducted with

a legitimate investigative basis,” and therefore doesn`t think Flynn`s

statements were material, even if untrue.

 

So, in fairness to all of this, that is a piece of a legal claim. Your

response, sir?

 

FLANNERY: Well, my response is that, if you`re lying about your contact

with the ambassador from a foreign nation about ongoing policy that you

disagree with, and you`re discrediting that it will be enforced, if that`s

not material in a national security investigation, I don`t know what is.

 

MELBER: Fair. You hit it on the head there. And that`s why it does seem

different than what you had for breakfast.

 

John, as I mentioned, I hadn`t seen you in a while. I do miss you. I like

seeing you here.

 

I have one bit of more light quarantine business for you, if you will

oblige, one question, but you have to be honest. Are you ready?

 

FLANNERY: Sure. Yes.

 

MELBER: OK.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MELBER: We`re all trying to keep it together. We`re all trying to go day by

day. Everybody`s got the different ways we try to get through.

 

Are you suiting up a bow tie every day from quarantine or not?

 

FLANNERY: When I work at my desk, I do. I put myself in that way.

 

So, what I`m wearing now, I would wear when I`m working. And when I stop, I

run out…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MELBER: When Flannery is working from home, even during these times, not

leaving the house, you have the bow tie on in the home office, is that

correct?

 

FLANNERY: Just like you wear this all the time when you`re on the air.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MELBER: All right. We wanted to know.

 

John, I wish we were reconvening during better times for the country, but

thank you for being here, as always.

 

I have a 30-second break, the shortest on THE BEAT, and then we`re back

with some important news in just 30 seconds.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER: Coronavirus exposure hitting close to home in the White House.

 

While the president has very publicly, very blatantly said he won`t wear a

mask, meanwhile, now this news that his valet is testing positive for

coronavirus.

 

A source telling NBC that this individual is close to the president

throughout the day in terms of actual physical proximity. Reports the

president is not happy about it. Both Trump and his vice president have now

tested negative for the virus.

 

The CDC does recommend that anyone close to someone who tests positive

should wear a mask. The president not doing that today and going on with

official business meetings.

 

As for the rationale, there are reports that Donald Trump thinks it would

be the wrong message on the economy, and that all of this still relates to

his views on reelection.

 

Now, earlier this week, he refused to wear a mask even while touring a

facility in Arizona that, yes, literally makes masks.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

QUESTION: What would people gain from wearing a mask, and why are you

opposed to wearing one yourself?

 

TRUMP: Well, I just don`t want to wear one myself. It`s a recommendation. I

think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers,

dictators, kings, queens, I don`t know. Somehow, I don`t see it for myself.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: We should note that there are plenty of officials in different

countries, as well as in the U.S. Congress, who are using masks while going

about government business.

 

Speaker Pelosi also criticizing the president for violating, effectively,

CDC recommendations.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It`s a vanity thing, I guess, with him. I don`t

why it would be vain, but, anyway, it`s a vanity thing.

 

You think, as the president of the United States, you would have the

confidence to honor the guidance that you are giving others in the country.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: Michelle Goldberg joins us from “The New York Times.”

 

As you can see, in that interview, Speaker Pelosi had a face covering. A

cloth face covering is among the option the CDC recommends, which she and

others have been seen using when they`re not alone or they`re not able to

social distance.

 

Your view of this story, Michelle, which seems to kind of capture a lot of

both hypocrisy in the Trump era, and, although we hope nothing worse

happens, a bit of the chickens coming home to roost?

 

GOLDBERG: Well, I would say two things.

 

First, the reason that leaders should be wearing masks is twofold. One is

obviously to protect themselves, but the other is just to model good

behavior. If your CDC is going to make this recommendation and you want

people to follow it, you can`t on the other hand be saying, you know, that

it somehow is unmanly or makes you look ridiculous to wear a mask.

 

And you`re already seeing mask-wearing emerge as a sort of culture war

totem. Right? Everything about the coronavirus has been polarized by this

president, so that just complying with sort of basic public health

directives becomes a sign of liberalism.

 

And it means that we get a lot less of it. And, apparently, we get a lot

less of it even with the people immediately around the White House. Right?

It`s really striking that it`s not just Trump, apparently, who is not

wearing a mask, but the people who are serving him are not wearing masks

and are somehow not quarantining, right, or are exposing themselves enough

to the outside world besides the small circle of the administration to be

able to infect themselves. Right?

 

So these are people who can`t protect – they can`t protect even the White

House, let alone the country.

 

MELBER: Yes, it`s verging on a “Dark Knight” quote, which is, how are you

going to protect me? You all can`t even protect yourselves, which a suspect

tells Commissioner Gordon.

 

But, in all seriousness, as you know, it has a bit of that energy. And the

White House, those of us who have reported there or been there, it was

built very literally as a residential workspace and potential bunker.

 

So there is something particularly galling about this.

 

GOLDBERG: Again, I think the other thing that is galling is that you see

that the president is – reportedly is apoplectic about this, and, you

know, as he has a right to be.

 

But at the same time, you`re getting a message from him and from this

administration that everybody else should go out and be brave and be a

warrior and face this virus, and, you know, risk infection for the good of

the economy.

 

So I think you also see the hypocrisy, right? They inside – when it comes

to the president, they understand full well how dangerous this thing is.

When it comes to everybody else, it`s time for them to, you know, as he

said, be warriors.

 

MELBER: Well, you hit it on the head.

 

Again, wishing everyone the speediest recovery over there, but what you

just hit on the head is a lot of talk about other people reopening, while

actually retrenching in the White House itself.

 

People getting this and spreading it is precisely the risk. And that risk

factor is hitting home there.

 

Michelle Goldberg, as always, thank you.

 

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

 

MELBER: We`re going fit in a break.

 

When we come back, an important story I want you to stick around for. We

covered it last night. We have new developments on that deadly shooting in

Georgia, a former U.S. attorney speaking out.

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER: Developments in a story we first brought you last night.

 

New and growing outrage, some of it bipartisan, in this case of Ahmaud

Arbery, an unarmed man in Georgia who was just jogging in broad daylight,

when he was gunned down by two men in a pickup truck, who later told police

they made up their own conclusion that they believed him to be a burglar.

 

This morning, Arbery`s mother saying she thought the men involved were not

arrested because of essentially bias by the police because one of them was

a retired officer.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WANDA COOPER, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: I think that no arrest has been made

basically because they – because of the title that he carried of the

retired police officer.

 

I think that they don`t feel like that he was – he was wrong because he

was one of them.

 

Ahmaud, most all of, was loved by his family and peers. I mean, Ahmaud

didn`t deserve to go the way that he went.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: Several aspects of the way the case has been handled have been

unusual from the start.

 

An original DA, who has recused himself, still went out of the way to say

that Arbery`s pursuers could have been in the legal right because they were

in – quote – “hot pursuit of a potential burglary suspect with solid

firsthand probable cause” that would make their actions potentially legal

in Georgia.

 

Arbery`s lawyer making a different point, take a look, when we discussed

this on THE BEAT last night.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

S. LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR ARBERY FAMILY: If Ahmaud and his dad went out

and killed a young white jogger that didn`t have law enforcement ties, they

would be under – at the very least arrested.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: This case may remind you of other tragic cases that are obviously

touched by race overhanging what looks like disparate treatment.

 

And this case is now getting a lot more attention. It was trending online

today to number one at one point. It`s getting responses from well-known

people, ranging from Joe Biden to LeBron James to some Republicans in

Georgia calling for an investigation.

 

So it may not break along any traditional partisan lines. A video of the

shooting has emerged, and it also, as we reported last night, undercuts

aspects of the police report.

 

We want to note the video shows part of the incident. We cannot tell you

what happened, of course, before the video started.

 

The current DA is now discussing sending it to a grand jury. But as we have

reported, that would take time, given the COVID closures, and plenty of

police and DA situations involve arrests without waiting for a grand jury.

 

We turn now to Michael J. Moore, a former U.S. attorney in Georgia

appointed by President Obama, who has reviewed this case, provided analysis

for “The New York Times.”

 

Thanks for joining me.

 

MICHAEL J. MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Sure. Glad to be with you.

 

MELBER: Legally, do you see enough evidence in the record for an arrest

here?

 

MOORE: I think you could have looked at the initial police report, not to

mention the tape, and made a decision in about 30 seconds that there should

have been warrants taken and an arrest made in the case.

 

It`s pretty clear that what happened is, these two guys decided they were

going to form a posse and chase down this young African-American man who

was simply running through a neighborhood, and they did it after stopping

by to get loaded guns and loading up in the pickup truck.

 

So I just don`t think, whether you`re a Republican or you`re a Democrat –

I heard you talk about the politics – or you`re a political agnostic, I

just don`t know how reasonable people are disagreeing about what you see in

the tape.

 

MELBER: The initial handling, as mentioned, by law enforcement appeared to

highly favor the individuals responsible for the killing, which is

obviously unusual and suspect.

 

I want to read from that, the original DA, I mentioned, writing: “While we

know that the shooter had his finger on the trigger, as well as Mr. –

that`s Mr. McMichael – “we do not know what caused the firings.”

 

He goes on to write: “Arbery would have only had to pull the shotgun one-

eighth of an inch to fire the weapon himself. In the height of an

altercation, this is entirely possible.”

 

Can you help us understand, legally, what it means to have what sounds like

a defense argument by law enforcement?

 

MOORE: Sure.

 

The problem is that you can`t claim self-defense if you`re the aggressor in

the act. And, essentially, what happened here is they chased him down the

road, according to the initial statements – and I read initially when

Richard Fausset with “The Times” was breaking the story, and they asked me

to look at it.

 

I read the reports and the letter from DA Barnhill. These guys were riding

down the rode in the pickup truck, yelling at Mr. Arbery. They have got

their guns. One is in the back of the truck. They actually get out of the

vehicle with a loaded shotgun. He tries to go around the truck.

 

And then he tries to take the gun away. And that`s how the gun – how he

touches the weapon. And who wouldn`t. If you had a nut with a loaded

shotgun pointed at you, who wouldn`t try to disarm them or try to get it

away them you, or push the barrel away from you?

 

And so that seems to be obviously when the gun went off, and it went off in

the hands of young Mr. McMichael. And that`s the problem.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MOORE: Go ahead. I`m sorry.

 

MELBER: Before I lose you, the final thing – no, the final thing is, we

have heard this argument before, and sometimes it sounds, frankly, like an

excuse, where DAs, who bring charges all the time, say they have to wait on

the grand jury.

 

Your response to that claim in this case?

 

MOORE: Yes, that`s a problem.

 

And the reason is also you have got to realize in Georgia we don`t have

investigative grand juries. The grand jury is going to be limited by what

evidence the DA puts in front of them or what witness he chooses to bring

in there. They don`t get to subpoena evidence. They don`t get to do a long

inquiry to find out what went wrong or ask for records.

 

They`re very much hamstrung. And so what`s important is to get the GBI on

the case. Vic Reynolds, the director of the GBI, is a good guy. He is going

to, I`m sure, put good agents on it. They need to do a good, thorough

investigation.

 

And I really think, by the time they get there, that any reasonable person

is going to realize that this case should have been charged immediately

with a murder charge, a felony murder charge, if nothing more.

 

And, ultimately, I think there will be a true bill of indictment by any

grand jury. It`s tragic. They can`t claim that they were trying to make a

citizen`s arrest. They – that doesn`t fit either.

 

So all the excuses that you saw in the initial letter from DA Barnhill

really were weak on the law and weak on the facts and weak on rationale.

 

MELBER: I appreciate your clarity and your legal expertise.

 

Obviously, as a high-ranking federal prosecutor from that state, it brings

a lot of weight when you say you see a potential felony murder change here.

 

Michael J. Moore, thank you very much.

 

MOORE: Glad to be with you. Thank you.

 

MELBER: We`re going to fit in a break.

 

When we come back, a big Supreme Court ruling with big political

implications.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER: A major development in Chris Christie`s Bridgegate scandal.

Remember that from 2013?

 

Well, today, the Supreme Court unanimously overturning the conviction of

two of the former governor`s aides for their role in that traffic lane

closure scheme.

 

Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni had been convicted of federal offenses,

and they fought this. Justice Elena Kagan, a Democratic appointee, writing

– quote – “The evidence the jury heard no doubt shows wrongdoing,

deception, corruption, abuse of power, but the federal fraud statute at

issue do not criminalize that conduct.”

 

This decision coming years later does close the legal chapter on

Bridgegate, not on the ethics or the stated corruption, but letting these

people move on with their lives without convictions.

 

We will be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER: One programming note.

 

We did mention filmmaker Michael Moore was expected be on the show tonight.

He wasn`t able to join. We will try to have him back soon. Wanted to give

you that update.

 

Tomorrow night on THE BEAT, we have something very special planned. It

includes Fat Joe. Represent.

 

That does it for me. I will be back, of course, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

 

Keep it right here on MSNBC.

 

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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