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The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/3/17 WSJ: Mueller impanels Grand Jury in Russia Probe

Guests: Robert Ray, Bill Krystol, Evelyn Farkas, Barbara McQuade, Shelby Holliday, Ken Delaney, Jim Manley, Pramila Jayapal, David Woh

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 3, 2017 Guest: Robert Ray, Bill Krystol, Evelyn Farkas, Barbara McQuade, Shelby Holliday, Ken Delaney, Jim Manley, Pramila Jayapal, David Wohl

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": You`re going to be using a lot more, I think, this hour than usual.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Chuck, I have a JD on me and I have a lot of JDs in the building. Good to see you, as always.

TODD: You got it, brother. All right.

MELBER: Breaking news tonight, special counsel Robert Mueller has convened a grand jury in Washington DC to pursue his criminal investigation into the Trump campaign`s possible ties to Russia and potential obstruction of justice.

This is bad news for the White House. It means Mueller is deploying his maximum prosecutorial power to pursue this investigation wherever it leads. Grand juries are secret proceedings used by prosecutors to build a case.

Now, they do not always lead to indictments, but they are generally good for prosecutors and dangerous for any subject of an investigation.

So, this news tonight, what Chuck was just mentioning to me, that Mueller is now using a grand jury in Washington suggests he`s moving forward on a process that empowers his growing team of prosecutors to put a laser focus on anyone in town potentially linked to the Russia inquiry.

President Trump`s lawyer tonight telling NBC, they`re not aware of a grand jury in Washington and they don`t believe the president is under investigation, a statement already contradicted by Trump`s own June tweet about being under investigation.

And this news is breaking at the very same time that the Senate is going on a full recess, which, as you may remember, does leave a door, at least cracked open, for the president to do something that his aides have discussed he`s exploring, to potentially fire Jeff Sessions and, to be clear, lawfully name a new attorney general through recess appointment, which would cut Congress out of the process.

Now, Republicans were just warning the president against that ploy before leaving town today, but will he care? Let`s get right to it on a big breaking news tonight.

Robert Ray is a former independent counsel. In fact, he was the last independent counsel leading the Whitewater investigation of the Clintons and succeeded Ken Starr, whose pursuit of the Clintons ultimately led to those impeachment hearings in 1999.

Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. Bill Kristol, editor-at-large for "The Weekly Standard" and a former federal prosecutor. Barbara McQuade, appointed by President Obama and has served briefly in the Trump Justice Department until she and 45 other US attorneys were asked to resign by Jeff Sessions.

So much to look at here. Barbara, what does this mean? And is Mueller just getting started?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN: Well, I think there`s two things significant about this. One, clearly, the anticipates more work to do if he`s entailing a new grand jury.

But two, I find really interesting, the location. There are reports previously that there was a grand jury that was already at work in the Eastern District of Virginia, which made some sense because Michael Flynn`s business was located there. So, then you would be appropriate there.

To have a new grand jury now in Washington DC suggests that Mueller expanding the scope of the investigation to include crimes that might be venued in Washington DC. One example of that would be obstruction of justice occurring in Washington.

MELBER: Bill Kristol, this is by any accounting a serious development. Will the president start taking this investigation seriously?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I don`t know. What does that even? Maybe he has already done things that he shouldn`t have done, which he can take it as serious as he wants.

I think you mentioned earlier that the president has, obviously, been itching, I think it`s fair to say, fire Robert Mueller and presumably Attorney General Sessions too. I think he was exploring that recess appointment possibility.

I think here, one very important development, John Kelly becoming White House Chief of Staff. I do not believe - I base this not on conversations with him, but just knowing him some. I do not believe John Kelly would stay as White House chief of staff if President Trump tried to fire Sessions and make a recess appointment, so as to be able to fire Mueller.

In fact, it was reported just yesterday that Kelly called Sessions to reassure him that he is not being fired. So, I think Trump has actually handed himself in. I don`t think he can do what he thought he might be able to do just a week or two ago.

MELBER: We`re tracking all this. And just recently, I think we something into the news room that we`re going to play here on MSNBC for the first time. The president being asked about this. Unclear whether he could actually hear the question, but you can decide for yourself. Let`s take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you considering firing Robert Mueller? Will you hold a news conference again? Are you going to fire Mueller?


MELBER: Evelyn, if he could hear, he may have been exercising restraint. Obviously, I don`t think the lawyers want him discussing this on a walk-by, but there is a rally coming up that we`re going to be covering later in the hour. Not going to it, but keeping an eye on it in case he says something.

Your view, especially given the intricacies of Russia on what this means tonight?

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA/UKRAINE/EURASIA: I mean, I think it`s pretty serious coming on the heels of everything that`s happened.

The president, meaning Congress passed the sanctions bill, essentially saying we don`t trust you when it comes to Russia. And Congress speaks for the American people. So, by extension, the American people have also said we don`t trust you on Russia.

At the same time, the president now is going to be, as you said, as you indicated, feeling the heat on the judicial front.

I think it`s still disconcerting because there`s still a part of this that we aren`t looking at even in the media. We`re not really talking about what Russia did.

And by the way, what is the United States` policy towards Russia because while all of this is going on, everything is in limbo with regard to Russia policy.

MELBER: Well, Mueller can indict Russian nationals, if he finds they were part of a felony.

FARKAS: Well, that would be interesting. Of course, the Russians will not make them available.

MELBER: It`s happened in the Southern District of New York, Robert. It`s happened when federal prosecutors find - they investigate crimes, right, not people? And they go after whoever has done a crime in their view.

RAY: Yes. But you may - if it`s a Russian national, you may not be able to return them to the United States for prosecution. So, extradition becomes an issue. It`s difficult with Russia unless Russia voluntarily wants to deliver up one of its citizens?

MELBER: What do you make of the location of this? You work with a grand jury?

RAY: Well, look, I handled the Whitewater and ultimately the Lewinsky investigations. It wasn`t surprising, not long after I was appointed in October of 1999, that by the summer of 2000, I had a grand jury empaneled. It was publicly disclosed. And it was in DC where you would expect it would be.

Now, this investigation has the little wrinkle of an inherited portion of the investigation related to Michael Flynn that originated in the Eastern District of Virginia.

But I wouldn`t make too much of the fact that a grand jury has been impaneled and that it`s impaneled in the District of Columbia. Grand juries handle everything from the ministerial, which is the issuance of grand jury subpoenas, through and including the investigative stage, which would be the testimony that would appear before them in the form of witnesses who respond to grand jury subpoenas, some who involuntarily appear before a grand jury where their testimony is compelled, pursuant to an immunity order.

And finally, ultimately, the ultimate (ph) job of a grand jury is to decide whether or not charges should be returned against an individual upon a finding of probable cause. So, all of those things are possible.

I think what it does suggest, though, clearly, and it`s consistent with Bob Mueller`s hiring decisions is that this investigation is going to last for some time. And as I`ve, I think, already publicly stated, I think you can expect well into 2018.

MELBER: 2018. Barbara, do you agree with that? And I want to put up on the screen here what we also know is, there`s the who and there`s the where. The where now being Washington. That`s new tonight. The who has been trickling out.

Fourteen of the Mueller team members have been identified out of about 16, includes Michael Dreeben, James Quarles, Andrew Weissmann, Greg Andres.

These are individuals - they might not be household names, but they are certainly big fish in legal circles, Barbara.

MCQUADE: Absolutely. And they are well known to people who prosecute for a living.

I think one thing that`s important to remember is the scope of this is Robert Mueller`s task is a quest for the truth and to find out what Russia`s role was in this and any coordination or links to the Trump campaign. So, that`s a very big scope. That`s why he`s building this team.

I thought one really interesting addition was just the most recent one, Greg Andres who is background is in organized crime and foreign bribery. That suggests to me that Mueller is at least thinking that those are areas where he wants some expertise.

Bill Kristol, the White House, has had many messages on this because they have so many messengers. Bob Ray here telling us this is going well through 2018 based on his expense, having worked with grand juries. Where does the White House go from here because many years of this is a lot of test for them and can create a lot of public concern, even though as we`ve stressed, the existence of a grand jury doesn`t presuppose anyone`s guilt.

KRISTOL: Right. And a lot - so much will depend on, obviously, what the truth is? I`m very struck by the fact that as recently as - what was it, early June, less than two months ago, Donald Trump flying back on Air Force One from Europe, was so concerned about what might come out about the meeting in Trump Tower that he took over the writing of the statement for his son Donald Trump Jr. and wrote a statement - a misleading statement - a very misleading statement about what had happened at that meeting.

I mean, that`s very - I mean, one has to really think about that. Why did he do that? First of all, it`s ridiculous - I`m not a lawyer, but I will just say. Any lawyer would tell him, keep arms` length, stay out of it.

The traditional thing presidents do and presidential aides do in the White House to say, that`s investigation, good luck, everyone should get their own lawyer, the president is not going to get in the middle of writing statements (INAUDIBLE).

Put your head around the prior thing. Why is he so worried about the truth about that meeting coming up?

MELBER: Well, you mentioned the truth. Let me ask you a follow-up, Bill. I mean, the premise of your question raises what`s so uncomfortable for the White House about that. What possible accurate value could the president bring to a meeting he didn`t attend?

KRISTOL: Right. Maybe learned about it from one of the people who did attend it. But even on the account - what`s amazing is, when you think about - even on the not-nice-account of the meeting that it was delivering info on Hillary Clinton or whatever, there is nothing against the law, I suppose, for someone to come out of that meeting and tell the president about it. I don`t think.

So, the fact that he`s so - he`s been so - I come back to very simple- minded view. If he is terrified of this investigation, wanted to shut down this investigation, called James Comey over to the White House one week after being president to have a one-on-one meeting, fired James Comey, has done his best to discredit the Mueller investigation, why is he doing on that?

The conventional DC interpretation sometimes is he`s always very thin- skinned, he`s erratic, he is vain, he doesn`t want his election called into question. Really? Maybe the simpler explanation is he`s very worried about what truth will come out about Russian ties with him, either in is businesses and/or in the 2016 campaign.

MELBER: Barbara, do you buy that theory of the case? Bill Kristol saying, this is an individual who looks nervous about the facts. And number two, do you think the public disclosure of this as a proceeding means the people at the White House have to be more careful about avoiding anything that could amount to tampering or obstruction?

MCQUADE: I do think that all indications are that President Trump is very worried about this. Issuing the misleading statement, his request to Jim Comey to let it go, all of his conduct suggest that he`s very worried about the outcome here, which I think is a red flag for the investigator Robert Mueller That there is perhaps some obstruction of justice going on here because of a bigger truth that he wants to get to.

And, certainly, if you`re inside the White House, I think that all of them are probably - have an elevated sense of leaks and preventing leaks, especially in this climate and especially now with Kelly serving as the chief of staff.

MELBER: I want to thank former independent counsel Robert Ray who has been in his shoes, one of the few people who has. We`re going to have you back later in the hour for another thing I want to ask you about. And I also want to thank Evelyn, Bill and Barbara for your expertise on this breaking news night.

So, how will the Mueller grand jury affect congressional investigations that are just heating up? I have a lawmaker who oversees the Justice Department on the judiciary committee here live.

And is Bob Mueller now focused on finances as well? There is an analysis here from the man who actually uncovered some of Donald Trump`s tax returns.

Meanwhile, let me show you what I mentioned. You`re looking here at Huntington, West Virginia. President Trump holding a rally tonight, people are going to hear about this news. Will they hear about his view of it?

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


MELBER: Breaking news this evening. Special counsel Bob Mueller deploying a grand jury in Washington for his investigation of the Trump campaign`s links to Russia. This, coupled with reports that Mueller is still enlarging his team of prosecutors, and that has many in the White House concerned.

Now, progress in an investigation does not mean anyone will be indicted. But even still, the story is bigger than just the DOJ and the White House. It also sets up test for Congress, where today leaders from both parties were warning Trump with new legislation that would try to make sure he can`t remove Bob Mueller.

Any investigation that reaches the White House raises many other questions for Congress because a special counsel does not just make decisions on whether to indict. It can also send a formal report to Congress, contemplating even more serious actions.

Here to discuss is Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She serves on the House Judiciary Committee and we will speak in a moment.

First, I want to bring in our political panel. Shelby Holliday is a reporter for "The Wall Street Journal", which broke this story, her colleagues. Ken Delaney, NBC`s intelligence, national security reporter. And Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Ken, state of play tonight as you know it?

KEN DELANEY, NBC INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Ari, there seems to be some dispute in the reporting as to whether Robert Mueller impaneled a special grand jury to hear this Trump Russia investigation or whether he`s merely using an existing grand jury already sitting in Washington DC.

That seems to me the significant thing that we should try to get to the bottom of. But either way, it`s some movement in this case. It shows that, at the very least, Mueller wanted the convenience of having a grand jury near his offices in Washington DC after having been using one in Alexandria.

And as you well know, the most powerful tool a grand jury affords a prosecutor is the ability to compel testimony. A witness does not have to sit voluntarily for an FBI interview, but you do have to go down to a grand jury if you`re subpoenaed.

And you can take the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, but if a prosecutor offers you immunity, you have to testify, and that`s a powerful tool.

MELBER: Right. Much narrower. Shelby Holliday, a big story from your paper here.


MELBER: Your views on the politics of it

HOLLIDAY: Well, politically, it`s interesting because we`ve seen multiple investigations run parallel to each other. So, Congress is also investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

There is a question of what this means for the congressional investigations. We saw the Senate committee last week - two weeks ago, maybe it was, try to subpoena Paul Manafort. And they brought Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. to the Hill to question them.

But they, ultimately, don`t have as much power as a grand jury does to compel witness testimony, to subpoena documents.

And so, this is a signal that the investigation is growing. It`s not winding down. We know that heat is on.

The fact that Congress is looking at protecting Mueller`s position is absolutely huge. This is a bipartisan effort. Republicans control Congress, doesn`t matter, they are on board with this. And what they want to do is essentially make it so that if President Trump wants to fire Mueller through the Justice Department, Mueller could challenge that and he would have a three-judge panel decide whether or not he should be removed.

MELBER: Right. I want to bring Jim in on that point. I mean, it shows that the Senate, Jim, sees its role - you worked there with Harry Reid as, obviously, buttressing some of this. And the point about how these proceedings go down, I mean, congressional hearings can be rough, they have an element of public shaming, but a grand jury proceeding, as folks who will remember from the Clinton investigation, make those hearings look like a cocktail party.

JIM MANLEY, FORMER AIDE TO SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID: They sure do. It`s one thing to lie via the press, but it`s a whole other ball of wax to live before a grand jury.

A couple of things. First of all, I think the Hill is going to give due deference to Mueller, to the extent they can. They have a lot of trust in him.

And number two, I think you and your readers need to understand that these bills introduced today are interesting.

But what I find fascinating is that it`s indicative of more and more Republicans, especially in the Senate, are going out of their way to try and find ways to distance themselves from Trump. They are not going to carry water for this guy on something as serious as this.

However, there is a problem if we`re talking about this legislation. If they need to, I assume it can get through the Senate. I`m not convinced it can get through the House. That`s going to take Speaker Ryan standing up to the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte, who is busy trying to investigate Hillary Clinton`s emails.

So, I`m not so sure it can get through the House.

MELBER: And the other Senate question I have for you, Jim, we have all these lawyers that didn`t get as much attention in the old days. You, parliamentary experts, also getting a little more attention with all of your boring book of knowledge.

If we get word today that when they go into recess and McConnell does make it a pro forma recess, your interpretation of that?

MANLEY: Well, it`s done - purely and solely designed to try and prevent Donald Trump from doing a recess appointment of replacing the new - replacing Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice.

MELBER: And we`re looking here at the Senate - go ahead.

MANLEY: Unbelievable. It`s just unbelievable. What they`re saying is they don`t trust this president to do the wrong thing.

HOLLIDAY: You bring up a good point. It also comes on the heels of Congress passing a bill that not only tightens sanctions, but limits the president`s power to lift sanctions.

They basically said, we don`t trust you to negotiate with Russia, we don`t trust you believe in being with Russia`s meddling in the election, and so we`re going to take your power away.

And I think, as you point out, we`re seeing Congress increasingly concerned about this investigation and where it`s heading.

MELBER: Yes. I mean, it`s a great point, Shelby. And, Ken, speak to that because it would seem from the national security side, where you talk to a lot of folks who see themselves as relatively non-partisan, the message they`re getting from a Republican Senate - McConnell makes this call - is that apparently if you buy - Manley`s interpretation, he wants to put the brakes on potentially bad security-related decisions the president could make in the Senate`s absence.

DELANEY: Absolutely. Look, there is a growing disquiet with this administration among both Republicans and Democrats in the national security community. I was at the Aspen Security Forum couple of weeks ago, filled with sort of decision makers from both parties of all stripes.

And the unifying field theory of that place was deep disquiet about Trump`s relationship with Russia, about where this investigations and about where they`re taking foreign policies. There`s no doubt about that, Ari.

MELBER: Ken Delaney and Shelby Holliday, Jim Manley, a busy day for all of you at your respective places of work. Thanks for joining.

Now, I want to go right to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She serves in the House Judiciary Committee and joins us from beautiful Seattle. A personal side note, my hometown. So, I love seeing the space behind you.

But, obviously, have a very serious role on the Judiciary Committee. What is on your mind tonight? Do you want to speak to what we just were discussing about whether they go into pro forma session, what that means, and what the Judiciary Committee is going to do, now that you know according to these accounts that there is this Washington grand jury in the Russian inquiry?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Well, let me say that I think that this - the reality of where the Senate is today, the fact that they probably are going to go into a pro forma session because I think, your panelists are right, they don`t trust the president to not do something that they wouldn`t approve of.

And they have made it very clear by the way that if he fires Jeff Sessions that they are not going to appoint another attorney general.

They also now, with the bills today, they`re making it very clear on a bipartisan basis that Robert Mueller, when he was selected, received wide bipartisan praise for his role. People were clear that he was going to be thorough, that he was going to be fair.

And so, now, the constant tweets and things coming from the president indicating that he might fire Mueller have got everybody on edge, as they should, because this is the special counsel. The problem with the special counsel versus an independent counsel, if we had an independent prosecutor, independent counsel, then that person would not be able to be fired by the present.

But because it`s a special counsel, it does mean that technically he reports up to the chain of command. So, I think they are signaling very clearly that this is a bipartisan effort to make sure that Mueller continues to do his job.

Now, in the House, unfortunately, we have been met with continued obstruction of our own sorts in the Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee where I sit, I`m a member of that committee, it is the only committee of record in the body, both chambers, that has not yet even had a hearing on any of these matters.

So, last week, I introduced a resolution of inquiry, with my colleague David Cicilline from Rhode Island. And it called for us to actually get some information about some of these matters related to Russia, related to the firing of James Comey and we were shut down - not just shut down, but that was actually hijacked. And the Republicans just tried to turn it into -

MELBER: Who shut you down?

JAYAPAL: Well, the chairman, there was essentially an amendment introduced that stripped the resolution of inquiry, which is one of the few tools that the minority has to put a question forward.

They essentially replaced all of the language that called for investigations and information into these matters that we`re talking about, they replaced it with essentially language that said we want to investigate Hillary Clinton and her emails and Huma Abedin.

I mean, in the midst of what is an important time, to say that, I think, was really distressing.

MELBER: That`s a fascinating sort of subtext to some of this because there`s so many different threads to pull on.

I hope you`ll come back on THE BEAT Congresswoman. Appreciate your time tonight.

JAYAPAL: Good luck to you.

MELBER: These are live pictures of folks getting ready to go into President Trump`s political rally here in West Virginia tonight. While people are working in Washington, he is holding this big event. Will he speak to these developments?

And stay with us ahead, we have a politics segment right after this.


MELBER: As we consider the breaking news tonight regarding a grand jury in Washington in the Bob Mueller investigation, the first time that`s ever been confirmed, consider Donald Trump`s prior statements - where else - on Twitter about this issue, calling the Russian probe a witch-hunt, saying people are laughing at an excuse for a lost election, Democrats and Russians.

I want to bring in a very special political panel. David Wohl is an attorney who also has served as a campaign surrogate for Donald Trump and Jamie Harrison is associate chair of the DNC and a past state party chairman.

David, I start with you. As an attorney, I`m sure you would agree, a grand jury is always something to be taken seriously. Your view on it in the context of the ongoing questions about Donald Trump`s campaign`s ties to Russia.

DAVID WOHL, ATTORNEY AND FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: I agree. And remember, this is a very high-profile matter. And a matter of this magnitude, a grand jury is a good idea.

The last thing we need is a circus like that Jim Comey presided over at the end of last year where he laid out a powerful case against Hillary Clinton for obstruction of justice, destruction of federal property and other federal crimes.

And then, at the end of this powerful recitation of the case, he said, we think about it, we`re not going to file any charges.

MELBER: Let me jump in and then I`ll let you respond. Are you a surrogate for news from a year ago or do you want to answer the question about this particular criminal proceeding?

WOHL: No, no, no. No, I want to answer the question about this. It adds legitimacy to the process. I think it`s important. So, he`s doing that.

It`s not going to be that he`s going to come out and make a decision. He`s going to allow the 23 members of the grand jury to make a decision after the evidence is laid out.

However, when that does take place and they come back and say there is absolutely no evidence of collusion then the mainstream media can`t attack the process. The Democrats can`t attack the process because it`s pristine and legitimate and that`s why it`s a good idea.

ARI MELBER: I think you make a very important point Mr. Wohl which is the criminal process is investigative, we do not presume guilt in advance, and for those who are around Donald Trump who feel frustrated with the idea that certain discussion political or otherwise has gotten into innuendo Jamie, this is a process where if at the end of the day Bob Mueller who has been praised by everyone and Grand Jury which is a process we use in this country finds either no high-level indictments or nothing touching the White House or indicts say foreign hackers, that should put it to rest. Would you agree Jamie?

JAMIE HARRISON SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: I would agree with that, Ari. Listen, this is about the rule of law and the sanctity of the American Presidency. I know the Republicans want to make this about Hillary Clinton and fighting the 2016 campaign but that`s not what this is all about. That`s not why Donald Trump is so upset about what Bob Mueller is doing and why Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are coming together to draft legislation to protect Mueller and his investigation. This is serious business. So if you are someone who loves this country and loves this government that has allowed this great nation to be, then you need to take this seriously. And Donald Trump is scared about what will happen and what will come out of this investigation.

MELBER: Mr. Wohl, when you look at this report tonight for the first time we`re learning there is a Grand Jury in Washington, you can ask the Clinton administration under Bill Clinton how long that can take and how difficult it can be. Would you advise Donald Trump as someone who`s been a surrogate and supporter of his not to give coaching or advice anymore to people who may ultimately become witnesses?

WOHL: Well, he`s not going to do that. I mean, he`s not going to interfere with the process at all. I think he`s made that clear. By the way, I don`t know that he`s ever said anything about firing Mr. Mueller. I think that`s something that`s been fabricated. And look, here is the good thing, Ari, is that I agree with your previous guest. This could take up to a year. Now, remember it`s a confidential process, hopefully, it remains that way. That way in and over the next year we can actually get back to doing the people`s work. I mean, right now, as of the first six months of this administration, we have a record low unemployment, 16-year low. We have almost a million new jobs created. We have stock markets skyrocketing through the roof. And it`s time to get back to the things that count. And this process as it will be secret will allow lawmakers to actually do that and gosh how critically important is that.

MELBER: Jamie, you know, Mr. Wohl here, I should call you both by your first name. David -

WOHL: You can call me David, Ari, no problem at all.

MELBER: Jamie, David is making a point here as someone who supports Donald Trump that the whole country, the government, certainly the Democrats now that the process is going forward ought to be able to focus on other things for all the reasons we just discuss. Do you agree Jamie? Do you think, when you looked at Democrats in Washington they are getting the balance right or they getting Russia obsessed when really this is a process that should play out while they govern?

HARRISON: Well, listen, it`s not about us being Russian obsessed, it`s this administration. It`s lie after lie after lie. It`s like watching Maury Povich. I mean, it`s amazing the reality TV show that we have here. We had Donald Junior who basically said no, I didn`t meet with the Russians and we found out that he did meet with the Russians. And then he said well, we talked about adoption. And then we find out well, there`s more than just adoption that they talked about in those discussions. And so it`s leak after leak, it`s lie after lie and that`s what`s feeding the beast here. It`s not Democrats who want to fight about what`s going on in Russia. We want to get the American people`s business done but we can`t get it done because of the reality show in the White House.

WOHL: Well, let me say -

MELBER: David Wohl and Jamie Harrison, it was both of your first times on THE BEAT. I got to go because I got a water gate prosecutor waiting to come back on set while you`re on. I appreciate you both. Let`s have you back again.

HARRISON: Thank you, Ari. I appreciate it.

WOHL: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you very much. Now, how does a Grand Jury actually work? Are witnesses allowed to have lawyers with them? Do they have the normal right? Is the Mueller Grand Jury different from other types of Juries? We`re going to hear live from as I mention, someone with firsthand experience. Stay with me.


MELBER: We`re back with today`s breaking news. A Grand Jury impaneled in Washington for the Russia inquiry but what you`re looking at is what Donald Trump is doing. He`s in route to Huntington, West Virginia for a campaign style rally. Now late today on the south lawn of the White House as we noted, reporters tried to get some answers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you considering firing Robert Mueller? Will you hold a news conference again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to fire Mueller?


MELBER: NBC`S Hallie Jackson also at the White House and we`re going to be joined in a moment there by Robert Ray, a former Independent Counsel in the Clinton inquiry. Two people here who know a lot about how the White House feels. Hallie, sometimes it has collective feelings or mixed feelings. What are you hearing?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I don`t know there`s anything mixed about it, Ari from what we have seen coming out of this White House. Both the brand new by the way Internal Counsel to the President Ty Cobb who was just installed specifically to deal with all of this Russia stuff and then you`ve also got the President`s personal lawyers, his outside team as well as we`re here at the White House in front of what really turned into tsunami in the last couple of minutes.

So forgive me if the lens gets a little bit wet there as the rain blows in from behind us. I will say this, the messaging on this has been clear. You`ve heard two things. Number one, that President Trump, they say, there`s no reason to believe that he himself is under investigation. I will add, as you are aware, that once former senior intelligence official who has knowledge of the discussion is telling NBC News that in fact, it has told NBC, Robert Mueller is looking into whether potentially the President did obstruct justice. The other part of this though is pointing to something that James Comey -they say James Comey has said that he didn`t tell the President at the time that the President was under investigation. We have talked about this quite a bit over the last five, six months or so.

And so, I would just note here that doesn`t necessarily indicate that after Comey was fired that something didn`t change. That said, it is consistent messaging from the President`s team here. I will say this, Ari, this is an investigation as you know that has infuriated the President. He`s talked about it again and again. I wouldn`t be surprised if he might call it a witch hunt for example tonight. We`ll see if he does that. He has done it on the road before. And this yet another story that is obviously dominating headlines that cannot please Donald Trump tonight.

MELBER: Yes, Hallie, I mean, infuriated him so much they spent the closing argument of ObamaCare attacking his own Attorney General over one reason, Russia, so fascinating. Well, I`m sure we`ll be checking back in with you throughout the night Hallie Jackson at the White House. Now, this explosive news of the new Grand Jury in Russia (INAUDIBLE) has shaken Washington, a town where everyone knows Grand Juries can rattle a White House. Consider Bill Clinton, the first sitting President to ever testify before a Grand Jury which was led by aggressive Prosecutors Ken Starr and then Robert Ray.

We were going to play for a little bit of that but we don`t have it, it`s breaking news day. Robert Ray, you may remember from earlier in the show, nice to see you again.


MELBER: You look at this and you think, wow, Grand Juries must be powerful if so many powerful people are worried about them. I wanted to have a little more time with you putting Donald Trump to the side for a moment. Explain to us why do prosecutors like to work with Grand Juries.

RAY: Well, it`s unnerving to be on the receiving end of federal prosecutorial power. It doesn`t matter who you are including the President of the United States. But the - you know, the point is, is to not be unnerved and unglued and go on and do your job. And fortunately for the President, he has a professional Ty Cobb who I knew well, he`s a profession. The appropriate comment is to say we`re cooperating fully with the Special Counsel`s investigation and we look forward to a speedy resolution of this matter.

MELBER: You`re -

RAY: That`s the best - that`s the best and really the only answer you should be giving.

MELBER: Jay Sekulow is someone that I`ve been inviting here in the program since we launched which isn`t that long but he hasn`t come to us yet but he did go on Fox News today to speak to these issues. let`s take a listen.


JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: I think Bob Mueller is going to move expeditiously forward in this process as it relates to the President of the United States. I don`t expect this to be going on for years. I just -as it relates to the President, I just don`t see it.


MELBER: Is that the right tone?

RAY: It is. But they need to stay on that tone not vary on that tone and of course, the message is not always well received by the client.

MELBER: In this case the client, Donald Trump.

RAY: Yes.

MELBER: But when you look at what you can do, I mean, you could bring what? Just about - could you bring White House aides before the Grand Jury?

RAY: Of course. I mean, the old joke used to be that Betty Currie who was the President Clinton`s Personal Assistant - Secretary, that every time she talked with somebody, whoever it is she talked to ended up getting a Grand Jury subpoena.

MELBER: Right. And some folks at the time were saying that was because - I mean, especially during the Ken Starr period of it that they were overly aggressive. Friends, confidantes, all sorts of folks caught up in it and when they`re in that Grand Jury, do they have lawyer with them?

RAY: No. It`s a one sided proceeding. It`s the presence of the prosecutor asking questions, the witness under examination, up to 23 Grand Jurors, possibly an interpreter. And that`s it.

MELBER: And that`s it. You`re just alone in there. I think we do have-I was mentioning this earlier because we want to folks some of the -

RAY: And a court reporter.

MELBER: Sure and a transcript - let`s take a look at some of this period from Bill Clinton. There he is. This - walk us through this because this was something incredible. August 2000, sitting President giving Grand Jury testimony.


RAY: Well, it`s an unusual point in our history. It was somewhat of a compromised solution which is that he didn`t actually appear in a Grand Jury room. But it was the first time, at least to my knowledge, that a sitting President had ever appeared before a Grand Jury.

MELBER: Was it constructive for Clinton to do it and should Trump be open to doing the same thing?

RAY: Well, I think you know, every situation is different. That`s a situation where he really was left with little choice. Hopefully, most defense lawyers seek to avoid having their client either a target or a subject of a Grand Jury investigation voluntarily appear before a Grand Jury. Typically the default position would be if you had any belief at all and a reasonable belief that you had exposure, you would be advising the client and the client would be well advised to accept the advice to take the Fifth Amendment. That was not really an option for President Clinton under the circumstances.

MELBER: Fascinating. Robert Ray, who`s been down his past, not many of you living former Special Prosecutors, I appreciate your time. Now, the Mueller investigation isn`t just about people, it is also about money. This is an angle we haven`t (INAUDIBLE) yet but we have some very important reporting coming up next on THE BEAT.


MELBER: Breaking news tonight. Bob Mueller impaneling that Washington Grand Jury for the Russia inquiry, legal experts say Mueller thinks he`ll subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses which means Trump aides could be forced to testify. And remember, Prosecutors can jail those who refuse to comply. But this is not just about people. The FBI doesn`t start by investigating people. It investigates crime and follows the evidence and there were reports here that evidence, in this case, means money. Money leaves a trial, records, for every account opened or closed, or every wire transfer and investigators now looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes. Happy to say we have David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist and Trump Biographer as well as Mike Lupica, a celebrated Columnist with the New York Daily News. Mike, plain English, follow the money or the rubles. Will that be a big part of this?

MIKE LUPICA, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS COLUMNIST: That line, by the way, was written by William Goldman in a screenplay for all the President`s men and it has become part of the language of this country. Ari, an old Hitchcock movies, they used to talk about the McGuffin. The McGuffin was the thing at which the plot turns. What the McGuffin here? What is the thing that this President is so desperate to hide that he might have gambled his Presidency on it? Because that`s the question. What are the lengths that he will go to, to keep Robert Mueller from finding the McGuffin?

MELBER: Are you - are you - Sir, are you asking me or can you tell me?

LUPICA: No, me, it`s the unknown thing about this. It has been the unknowable thing from the start. And as a - as a New York lawyer I know said to me today, this is the beginning of the end, the impaneling of this Grand Jury or the end of the beginning, OK. This is the end of the overture. And maybe Robert Mueller has got a Grand Jury now and he`s going to start picking people off one by one.

MELBER: Well, here a theory of the case, your respond. One, the McGuffin is some elicit activity related to the election. Two, the McGuffin is some unrelated financial issue. Three, the McGuffin is that Donald Trump is an unusual man, he said so himself with a great deal of feeling about the loss of the popular vote in the 2016 election and a great deal of responses to what he views as the de-legitimization of that election unrelated to any actual misconduct. Those are three theories.

LUPICA: I think it`s going to be money. (AUDIO GAP) something in the (AUDIO GAP) or something when he was facing bankruptcy back in the 1990s that maybe somebody bailed him out but. But it is something that if it is made public, will diminish the idea that this guy is one of the great titans in the history of all time.

MELBER: David?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, AND AUTHOR: Well, it is money for sure and every time this issue comes up, Donald is actually transparent about this. He doesn`t want Mueller looking into his family business and its money. Donald has been involved with Russian money going back to the late `80s. His family is - had numerous connection with the Russians. And one of the things he may be very worried about is the Trump SoHo lawsuit they`ve been trying so hard to get rid of in which the profits from this hotel project in New York in which both banks and investors lost money, and yet it had profits, disappeared in a deal Donald signed off on. He was an 18 percent owner of the project into an (AUDIO GAP) Russian oligarchs. And (AUDIO GAP). And a Grand Jury would be very useful for investigating these things, both for getting documents as well as leveraging people in getting information out of them.

MELBER: That`s right. I mean, that`s certainly true as an investigative process, I will mention here, we had some Trump surrogates on earlier in the hour. The Trump folks have strenuously denied all this. They`ve said that an investigation or hunt of past activities before November doesn`t seem very fair because the feds could have looked at that any other time and they`ve raised that issue. Having said that, David, look at this New York Times reporting. It seems more and more relevant as the big news breaks tonight, "A former senior official saying Mueller`s investigation looking at money laundering by Trump associates, a suspicion that cooperation with Russian officials would have been done in exchange for financial payoffs. That would have been an effort to hide the payoffs most likely by routing them though offshore banking centers. David, based on your reporting, how does that work and would there ultimately be records to catch it?

JOHNSTON: There would be records and we have a very important federal agency FinCen which is mostly IRS people who are very good at finding needles of money in hay stacks of global commerce. The transactions Donald has been involved with, and I`m sure he`s worried about, will end up being connected to Deutsche Bank, the bank that loans the money, that bank that was laundering money for the Russians, the purchases of properties from him at high prices and hopefully, Mueller will go all the way back to the 1980s, and Donald`s inexplicable deep entanglement that I go to in depth in the Making of Donald Trump, with a major international drug trafficker he went to back for.

MELBER: And so, Mike Lupica, final thought, more money, more problems.

LUPICA: Yes. I mean, one of the lawyers I`ve talked to comes out of (INAUDIBLE) cases in New York City and he said don`t kid yourself. If he`s got Grand Jury now, he`s looking to indict people.

MELBER: Right. And that`s what Grand Juries often do, not always because we want to be fair but that is often what they do and they are such a powerful tool.

LUPICA: And again, start picking people off one by one.

MELBER: Mike Lupica with the McGuffin, David Cay Johnston with the money, thank you both. Now, what is a Grand Jury? I have a prosecutor coming up next who going to explain just why it`s so powerful.


MELBER: In our breakdown tonight, what is a Grand Jury besides a powerful tool for prosecutors? Why does it paralyze White Houses from both parties and why is it so different from a normal jury? Well, I have former Federal Prosecutor Kendall Coffey here. Let`s start with this. If it`s a secret why are we hearing about it?

KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, that`s a great question. I`m sure Robert Mueller is having some high decibel conversations with some of his team about all the leaks. It`s actually a federal crime for prosecutors to disclose what goes on inside the Grand Jury. But this is about the Presidency. We`re not going to have radio silence during this period. There`s going to be people who talk about it and there`s going to be a huge amount of public interest in finding out as much as possible.

MELBER: Prosecutors are known to be strong, they like the win. Why is this such a good tool?

COFFEY: Well, first of all, it is intimidating. And once a Grand Jury word is getting out, then all of a sudden, everybody`s going to lawyer up, the witnesses, the possible subjects, and it starts to be every man and every woman for themselves. Their lawyers are telling them, don`t worry about protecting somebody, worry about protecting yourself. And as we know, the tools of the Grand Jury are very, very one-sided. It`s not a two-way street where there`s a pursuit of an even handed both sides to the story. It is a one-way street and the prosecutors drive the bus as to what documents are subpoenas and what witnesses are called before the Grand Jury and who gets indicted.

MELBER: We keep hearing about these undisclosed meetings with Russians by top White House official and former officials. We`ve seen them come out and speak occasionally to the public or to this closed door committees. Do current federal officials, these top White House people that are so powerful, can they be called in? Do they have to go?

COFFEY: They`re going to be called in. They`re going to have to testify. And as we know, it is an intimidating environment. They go in without friends or family, without even their lawyers, just a room full of people and the federal prosecutors asking them tough questions.

MELBER: And then, I got to ask you the big question we did touch on this earlier showing Bill Clinton`s precedent setting testimony. But if Donald Trump is called in, what kind of testimony do you think he would give? Would he be good at this?

COFFEY: Well, I`m not sure if he`ll be good at it because rather than sort of follow script, I think he`s going to be pretty aggressive and if he attacks Comey, says Comey is lying about this, Comey is false about that, remember, more has a lot of respect for James Comey. And one of the worst things Trump could do is go in and create a situation where they conclude that he`s testifying falsely because as we all know, at the end of the day, when this report gets submitted to the House of Representatives, as much as anything else it`s going to be about false statement, potentially perjury and obstruction. Indeed Donald Trump is in the firing line.

MELBER: Right. And we can`t - we can`t predict the future but past impeachments have had obstruction in the Nixon and Clinton examples. Kendall Coffey, thank you so much for your expertise. That is THE BEAT. We`ll see you tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern and "HARDBALL" starts now.